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Report on marine accident - tugboat Chanko's grounding and sinking north of Senja 22 April 2014

In the area north of Senja the tugboat Chanko lost control with its propulsion during the night of 22 April 2014 and drifted towards shore where they hit a rock, took in water and sank close to shore by the island of Edøy. The crew on board Chanko experienced problems with the propulsion just after midnight, and the captain decided due to this to stop the main engine. After the main engine stopped, the ship drifted with the weather and the wind. The captain considered that Chanko would be able to drift safely for about 2 to 2 ½ hours west of the island of Edøy. Earlier in the evening, the wind was blowing with strong force in a westerly direction and changed later to northwest. With the tidal water flowing its way into the fjord of Malangen, the captain presumed that the current would set in a southerly direction. He further presumed that this would result in a more southerly drift for Chanko, and that this again would give them a longer distance to drift safely in relation to the island of Edøy. Because the current did not sufficiently effect the drift for Chanko in a southerly direction as expected, Chanko instead drifted straight towards the island of Edøy where they grounded and sank after 1 ½ hour. The crew was shortly afterwards rescued on board the rescue boat RS Kaptein Skaugen. None of the crew were physically injured. The Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) received a notification from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in North-Norway (JRCC) on 22 April 2014 about the sinking of the tugboat Chanko close the the shore of the island Edøy. The crew of four was resued by the rescueboat "Kaptein Skaugen". AIBN decided on 22 April to initiate an investigation into this accident, and ccommenced with the first interviews on 28 April with the company management and the crew.

The investigation of this accident has revealed that the shipping company had not established plans for emergency preparedness to respond to any enquires from the vessel. A safety management system established in accordance with the intentions would i.e. have secured the company office shoreside to be available 24/7 for the vessel. Based on this the Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) recommends the shipping company to revise its internal routines and to start up the work with establishing and implementing a safety management system for their ship operation.

Almost all communication that the vessel had with Vardø VTS Centre and with the rescue boat were via mobile telephone. The vessel only communicated via VHF-radio just before they grounded, in their communication with the rescue boat and with Bodø radio.

Chanko notified Vardø VTS Centre at an early stage that they drifted without any engine power, and that there were “no danger involved”. In agreement with the vessel, Vardø VTS Centre put through this message to the joint rescue coordination center in Bodø (JRCC Bodø), via Bodø radio. Since the captain on board Chanko informed that there were “no danger involved”, neither Vardø VTS Centre nor JRCC Bodø understood any need for further follow up of the vessel.

AIBN consider that both Vardø VTS Centre and JRCC Bodø followed their routines throughout this accident. However, in order prevent similar accidents, AIBN are of the opinion that both of them should consider to clarify some of the areas in their individual routines.

Safety recommendation

Safety Recommendation MARINE No. 2015/06T

The investigation of the grounding and capsizing of the tugboat Chanko has revealed that the shipping company at the time of the accident did not have in place procedures to ensure shoreside personnel to be available to answer possible enquiries from the vessel in emergency situations. The consequence of this was that the captain did not receive necessary assistance for his evaluation of the situation when Chanko started to drift.

The Accident Investigation Board Norway recommends that the shipping company Polar Tugs AS revise their internal routines and establish a safety management system for their vessel operation.


Location Edøy, northeast of Senja
Occurrence date 22.04.2014
Accident category Grounding
Area Norwegian Territorial Waters
IMO number 5005457
Name of vessel Chanko
Accident type Pollution/environmental damage, Grounding
Vessel type Special Purpose Ship
Register The Norwegian Ship Register

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