Human errors caused collision off Corsica

The collision between container ship CSL Virginia (IMO 9289568),(listed by AIS and Equasis as the “Virgin Star”) and RoRo cargo ship Ulysse (IMO 9142459) was caused by a series of human errors, with investigators saying that both parties bore some of the blame.

The collision occurred on Sunday morning October 7th about 28 km north of Cape Corsica. The as then was CSL Virginia was at anchor about 29km north of the island of Corsica when it was struck broadside.

The joint investigation of Cyprus, Tunisia, and France blamed the watch officers on both vessels. They said that the watch officer of Ulysse was talking privately on his phone, while the other ignored radar alarms, as well as being some distance from the radar screen that warned of danger.

The investigators noted that it was unusual that a commercial vessel would drop anchor in a lane used by merchant ships. Youssef Ben Romdhane, director general of sea transport in Tunisia’s commerce ministry, was reported as saying that this was the first time a ship had dropped anchor in the location in question.

The estimated total damages were at least €13.5m. with an extra €10m in costs for cleaning coastal waters. As a result of the impact, the boxship’s fuel tanks ruptured resulting in a bunker spill, leaking hundreds of tons of bunker fuel into the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the fuel eventually hit the French coastline. A separate French investigation is continuing.

The ferry has been undergoing repairs at Menzel Bourguiba for the past two months, while CSL Virginia was heading to Chittagong, ETA January 24th, ahead of being broken up.

The report was presented on Monday January 7th by the Tunisian Ministry of Commerce.

Such was the force of the impact that the two ships remained entangled for five days in order to avoid further damages and pollution of the environment. They were cut loose from each other on October 11th last year.

The Tunisian RoRo did not sustain significant damage and was cleared to head for Tunisia a week after the collision. The Cyprus-flagged containership spent almost three weeks anchored off Cape Corsica before being allowed to set sail toward the Port of Constanta, Romania, for repairs.

2005-built, Liberia-flagged, 54,592 gt Virgin Star/CSL Virginia is owned by Virgin Maritime SA care of manager Universal Shipping Alliance of Athens, Greece. It is entered with Britannia Club on behalf of Virgin Maritime SA.

1997-built, Tunisia-flagged, 17,907 gt Ulysse is owned and managed by Cotunav of Tunis, Tunisia. It is entered with UK Club (Area Group London L3) on behalf of Cotunav.