Tyne & Wear

Farne Islands grounded ship: MV Danio's lookout 'asleep'

MV Danio vessel
Image caption MV Danio was stranded on rocks on the Farne Islands for nearly two weeks

A crew member on a ship that ran aground off the Northumberland coast "fell asleep" while on watch, investigators have said.

The 262ft (80m) MV Danio got caught on rocks on the Farne Islands at about 04:30 GMT on 16 March.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has yet to publish its findings, but the BBC's Inside Out found the crew also "forgot" to use the alarm system.

Owner of the vessel, Frank Dahl, said the grounding was due to "human" error.

The vessel's six-man crew was stuck on board about 3 miles (5km) from the mainland for about two weeks as bad weather postponed rescue attempts.

Alan Thomson, a consultant surveyor at the MCA, said the Danio had a "very basic" bridge navigational watch alarm system fitted, which should have rung to alert the crew they were approaching Longstone Lighthouse.

But the alarm was switched off and the crew member on lookout fell asleep, leaving the Danio running for miles on autopilot using an unapproved navigation system.

'Quickest way'

Mr Thomson said: "From the evidence that we looked at from the procedures on board, it showed a serious failing of the safety management system.

"The ship was using an unapproved electronic chart plotter, which is a bit like your GPS for the car.

"The Danio, from the time he sailed from Perth to the time he went aground, had two positions on his chart... he was relying solely on his GPS.

"They [the crew] basically said 'we'll draw a line and we'll go the quickest way possible' without really thinking about 'do I need to go that close to the Farne Islands?'"

Image caption The owner of MV Danio, Frank Dahl, said it was the crew who were "responsible"

Mr Dahl, said it was company policy to use the alarm system, "it is only the human who did not follow".

He said: "At sea, there is a risk, because sometimes you have nothing to do for minutes so everything runs on automatic, you just sit, comfortable, look out and fall asleep."

It was the captain and first mate of the ship who were "responsible", he added.

Captain Tadeusz Dudek said the crew "forgot" to use the alarm system and, if they had used it, the accident would not have happened.

The vessel, which was heading from Perth in Scotland to Antwerp, Belgium, was carrying 27 tonnes of diesel fuel and 1,500 tonnes of timber.

Environmentalists were "very conscious" of the potential "devastating" impact the ship could have had on the islands, which is home to about 80,000 pairs of seabirds and a large grey seal colony.

The vessel was re-floated almost two weeks after becoming stranded.

It was repaired at the Port of Świnoujście in Poland.

Inside Out North East & Cumbria is broadcast on Monday at 19:30 BST. It is also available nationwide for seven days thereafter on iPlayer.

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