The loss of the “Bourbon Dolphin” Capsized April 12, 2007

The English version of NOU 2008:8 is available in PDF format here:
It is a long report, but here is the Key Conclusions:

Pretty demning, but at least some changes to the rules and practises came from this accident. Still only applies to Norwegian vessels, or vessels working in Norwegian waters, but some are working their way into IMO, IMCA and OCIMF rules and guidelines ever so slowly…


There are two more things that stood out to me.

  • The oversized winch package was installed without any evaluation of the impact on stability. This is the type of customer requested modification that should have been denied, let alone implemented without further thought. The fact that Ulsteinvik walked away from that one smelling of roses is beyond me.

  • The anchor handling operation was undertaken without a fully operational stability computer (I forget exactly what was up with it, it’s been a decade since I read the NOU). If it had been used to its full capacity, the captain would likely have known not to add the hair that broke the camel’s back. To me, this looks like someone dropped the ball and watched it go with a shrug.

In the end, only the last button push is remembered. I’ve discussed this one with people pretty deep in the know, including a DNV inspector, and their take on the root cause is thus: “Oh, that one is easy, she capsized because the idiot captain dropped the guide pin when he shouldn’t have”. WTF?!

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