Experts probe ships' near miss on Orwell
BELGIAN experts have inspected two ferries which narrowly missed having a major collision in the fog-bound River Orwell, it was revealed today.The Maritime and Coastguard Agency asked the authorities in Ostend to examine the Sapphire and the Anglian Way and report their findings to the team which will investigate the accident.
BELGIAN experts have inspected two ferries which narrowly missed having a major collision in the fog-bound River Orwell, it was revealed today.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency asked the authorities in Ostend to examine the Sapphire and the Anglian Way and report their findings to the team which will investigate the accident.
The inspections are routine but it was agreed they should be carried out in Belgium as the vessels both sailed for that country in darkness after the incident and it was essential they were looked at in daylight at soon as possible.
Thames Coastguard duty watch manager Anthony Mayhew said the Marine Accident Investigation Branch had been informed and would decide whether to launch an investigation.
Coastguards said the weather at the time of the incident was light winds, fog with poor visibility and the sea state was smooth to slight.
Harwich Haven Authority sent its counter pollution vessel Harwich Hawk to the scene at 10.45pm on Friday but there was no spillage of oil or chemicals.
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The accident happened just past Number One Buoy off Trimley Marshes as the Sapphire headed for Ipswich from Ostend, and the Anglian Way was en route from Ipswich to the Belgian port.
The Sapphire, a 6,568-ton Swedish vessel, went aground and had to be refloated on the rising tide, while the Anglian Way, 7,628 tons and registered in Panama, continued on her journey.
The Sapphire discharged its cargo at Ipswich and then sailed for Belgium at 6am on Saturday.
Ipswich harbourmaster Capt John Swift described the incident as "very minor". The vessels struck each other a minor glancing blow with no structural damage and just a bit of paint lost.
The accident happened beyond the end of Felixstowe Port's Trinity Terminal, just after the point where Harwich Haven Authority's jurisdiction ends and Orwell Navigation Services take over for Ipswich.
There were no pilots on board either of the vessels as both masters have a pilotage exemption certificate, having been examined by both Capt Swift and Harwich harbourmaster Capt David Shennan.
The certificate says both masters are competent to enter and leave the river and harbour unaided, especially as their cargo vessels are regular runners and use the channels several times a week.