MAIB: Officer Watched Music Videos Before Going Aground

Another distracted wathstander accident investigation result. This one is quite aggregious if I may be so bold. This guy sounds like someone who really shouldn’t have even held a license to start with.

A couple items that really don’t make sense to me.

-I’m no fan of letting the ECDIS drive the boat, but had he not turned this feature off, there probably wouldn’t have been a grounding. Did he know he was turning it off?

-from this chart, he was obviously heading toward a choke point or danger area where some legitimate piloting was going to be needed so why was he acting like he was 500 miles offshore with nary a target in a 24 mile radius of his position, let alone the rocky crags of pentland Firth?

Situational awareness be damned. This guy needs to be taken out behind the wheelhouse and put out of his misery.

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The coast guard watchstander advised Priscilla’s watch officer to change course in order to avoid the reefs at the Pentland Skerries, which were about two nm ahead. The Priscilla’s watch officer thanked him and said that “we will see later.”

Yeah. He was on the ball alright.

Please let us know what he was watching. It better be something good.

I am ashamed, a Dutchman. He was probably watching porn.


The Pentland Firth is a very dangerous water to navigate. Here the Atlantic tidal water mass is forced through these narrow coastal areas and islands. Already before the islands of Stroma and Swona the current can be as high as 12 knots. Further on there is a channel width body of wild swirling and tumbling waves called The Merry Man of Mey, a real hell hole in which a lot of ships have perished.


An example is the mv Cemfjord that foundered in 2015 with the loss of all 8 crew.

There are only two occasions of one hour each per day when the passage is relatively easy and simple. That is from HW Dover to 1 hour after and from 6 hours after HW Dover to 5 hours before HW Dover.


This young mate’s behavior is incomprehensible. I wonder if he can be liable for damages in a civil court. In any case, his license should be revoked before he gets people killed.

The accident happened just five month after his certification, nice start.

The maritime officer was a 23-year-old Dutch national who held a combine deck and engineering qualification cation with certification issued in February 2018. The maritime officer typically spent 2 hours a day in the engine room in addition to bridge watchkeeping, and expressed a preference for engineering duties. He had also been experiencing some feelings of anxiety and restlessness caused by the illness of a family member.

He preferred engineering duties to navigational ones. I wonder whether the accident has something to do with this preference, he isn’t 100% interested in navigational tasks it seems.

As Priscilla approached danger, none of the aids to safe navigation were in use, and the systems designed to help keep the OOW alert or warn others of his incapacitation had been disabled, it looks like that he didn’t want to be disturbed.

Had the BNWAS been in use during the night of the accident, it would have been necessary for the OOW to leave the bridge chair to reset the alarm on the main bridge console at least every 12 minutes.

Dover high tide was on Wednesday 18th July, 2018 at 03:44 am. The ship was bound for Silloth, UK at the beginning of the Irish Sea. As it was he was storming at the Merry Men of Mey and would have arrived there outside the safe periods to pass these: 02.44 am - 04.34 am. The MO is not, I think, the type that will care much about studying the U.K. Pilots. What a mess…

Here is the final investigation report.

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With modern STCW OICNW and OICEW requirements and classes, how is it even possible for one to be qualified for the bridge and engine room?

It’s possible under STCW Regulation VII/1 as an “alternative certification.” I believe the Netherlands has approved/accepted a program for this. This allows certification for some, but not all of the “functions” for OICNW or OICEW.

To spare a crew member a new type of combined maritime study was created. The first Maritime Officers (Marofs) sailed already back in 1998 on Nedlloyd ships. Since that time the nautical schools broke with the separate training of nautical and engine room officers and only turn out Marofs.

There are Marofs 1, 2, 3 and 4. Marof 1 is a combination of captain and chief engineer. Marof 2 same of chief officer and 2nd engineer etc. As there are still a lot of officers with traditional training there is a mix of those two types of officers on board ships but eventually there will only be Marofs left.


Is there a concentration element between the two? In other words do these maroffs focus more towards one or the other discipline?

Personally, I’d be a nervous wreck trying to be the captain and the chief at the same time. I could kind of see it work in the junior officer rankings but senior Officer seems like too much. There is no feasible way I could see splitting the duties of chief mate and second engineer (US first engineer). Each of those jobs are beyond full time in themselves.

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Maybe the thinking is a lot of expertise is shifted ashore.

Apparently it was in this case.

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There is some expertise embedded in the ECDIS so to speak but in this case the cross-track error function was off.

When you set Iron Mike to constant heading instead of track-following it’s often necessary to disable certain annoying system features like alarms which might otherwise interfere with your listening pleasure. We can’t all afford Bose headphones, y’know.

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This was confusing to me about this incident. If he didn’t want to be bothered actually navigating the vessel, why didn’t he just let the computer drive?

I have to admit the thought of suicide crossed my mind.

EDIT: Not my suicide. I laid those demons to rest a long time ago. And suicide may be putting it strongly. More like knock the house down and see what happens.

Fact of life is that depending on talent, preference and ambition some are more suited for the engine room and others are more suited for the bridge. Few are equally good in both disciplines. The Marof of the Priscilla had a preference for the engine room, maybe that was part of the problem.

In the old days about ten crew members manned the engine room, that is almost the entire crew these days. Some ask what happens if we have to do a major repair in the engine room at sea? Do the Marofs have the experience for that? But the question should actually be: Do we still have enough people on board to carry out such a repairs? No, therefore maintenance and repairs are for a part shore based now.

These days engine rooms are very sophisticated and highly automated work environments with a modern air conditioned control room, totally different from the situation in the past, which require less personnel.

Easy now big fella, no need to make rash decisions. Things always have a way of working out

That was in 1967. I was sixteen.

But the concept of doing obviously (from the outside) stupid stuff with no upside and a high potential of coming seriously unglued was not strange to my youthful self. And what this guy did was obviously stupid with no discernible upside and a high potential for coming seriously unglued, so I have to wonder.

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