Human error, lack of controls, led to ferry grounding

The now-scrapped high-speed ferry Pinar del Río (IMO 9043952) grounded on August 16th 2019 as a result of a double human error and the lack of controls at the port of Dénia, Spain, an investigation has concluded.

The official investigation, reported in La Marina Plaza, found that the ship left the line that marks the entrance to the dock when the captain believed that the ship would collide with a recreational catamaran, which was carrying 60 passengers.

The ship then bumped against a concrete block located on the north breakwater. There were no injuries among the 393 passengers and the crew, but the severity of the grounding and a storm during the following days made the ship a total loss.

The report found that there were no technical causes of the incident.

The 25-metre-long catamaran, which was sailing out of the canal, forced the Pinar del Río to leave the line that marks the port entrance. The two contributing factors to the accident were:

  • human error. The bridge officers were not focused on the port entry manoeuvre, as they were attending to the training and familiarization of the bridge and engine officers who were going to take over.
  • the absence of management, coordination and control of maritime traffic in the port, since no one controlled that the ship could enter it while a catamaran with 60 passengers on board was already leaving the canal. The investigation found that, if there had been that control, the event could have been prevented.

The Ministry technicians recommended to establish an effective system for the control of maritime traffic in the port of Dénia and that the shipping companies contemplate the obligation to wait before accessing the entry channel in the event of there being vessels of a certain exit size. They should also consider establishing radio communications with those vessels.

1992-built, Cyprus-flagged, 3,454 gt Pinar Del Rio is owned by Balearia Eurolineas Maritimas of Alicante, Spain. It is managed by Balearia Caribbean of Alicante, Spain. At the time of the grounding it was entered with Steamship Mutual.