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Thursday, August 1, 2019 

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its report into the grounding of a Russian-registered bulk carrier which grounded after dragging its anchor in Falmouth Bay, England.

The vessel was in ballast and was successfully refloated on the next high water. Damage below the waterline included shell plate deformation and breached tanks. There were no injuries and no pollution.

The Kuzma Minin had sailed from Terneuzen, Netherlands, following a 71-day detention by port state control. Soon after sailing, the vessel received orders to load bunkers in Cueta, Spanish North Africa, and transited the English Channel at between 4 and 8 knots. The master notified the owner, JSC Murmansk Shipping Company (MSCO), that Kuzma Minin had insufficient bunkers and lube oil for the intended passage. For several days, Kuzma Minin alternated between being at anchor and loitering at slow speed in the English Channel until approval was given for the vessel to take bunkers in Falmouth, England. However, MSCO had a history of non-payment so the ship remained at anchor while this question was being addressed.

Overnight the winds increased to 50 knots-plus which caused the Kuzma Minin to drag its anchor. Although the movement towards the shore was quickly detected by the bridge watchkeeper, the actions taken to proceed to sea were interrupted by the anchor becoming fouled by a discarded length of chain. As focus was turned to clearing the anchor, Kuzma Minin was blown towards the shore.

Falmouth’s harbourmaster used local resources to refloat the vessel, but concerns over Kuzma Minin’s lack of P&I insurance cover, and its owner’s lack of co-operation in appointing a salvor, caused unexpected pressures.

MAIB noted that the financial situation of MSCO meant that Kuzma Minin’s master was unable to replenish bunkers and lube oil which influenced his decision to remain at anchor on a lee shore when strong winds were forecast, and the lack of P&I insurance led to concerns over responsibility for salvage payment which hindered the appointment of experts and the ability to secure the services of an additional tug that was on passage nearby

MAIB has recommended JSC Murmansk Shipping Company to take steps to ensure that its vessels are adequately resourced to operate safely and in accordance with international conventions, taking into account the potential consequences of vessels having insufficient fuel and oils, and the statutory requirement to maintain P&I insurance.

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