MAIB has commenced a safety investigation into a collision between the forest product carrier Saga Sky and the anchored stone carrying barge Stema Barge II, close to the port of Dover on Sunday 20 November 2016. The UK Coastguard evacuated all non-essential crew, there were no injuries and despite significant hull damage, both vessels remained afloat. The French emergency towing vessel Abeille Languedoc stood by during the later stages of the incident.

Saga Sky had discharged a cargo of wood pulp in Brake, Germany and was sailing in ballast to Uruguay. The vessel entered the Dover Strait traffic separation scheme early on the morning of 20 November. As the weather rapidly deteriorated, with wind speeds in excess of 80 knots, the vessel’s speed dropped and it began to pitch heavily. The propeller came out of the water causing the engine to overspeed and shut down.

Saga Sky’s engine was restarted and the vessel was manoeuvred out of the traffic lane. However, it then began to drift rapidly towards shallow water. Both anchors were deployed but this failed to arrest the drift.

Saga Sky impacted with Stema Barge II at about 0840. The collision resulted in significant damage to both vessels. When the weather abated and, following a stability assessment and redistribution of ballast, Saga Sky was able to proceed safely to Dunkirk for assessment.