Cargo Shift And Damage To Vehicles On Board Ro-Ro Passenger Ferry European Causeway

At 0633 on Tuesday 18 December 2018, the roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ferry European Causeway rolled heavily in very rough seas and very high winds during its voyage from Larne, Northern Ireland to Cairnryan, Scotland.

The violent motion caused several freight vehicles to shift and nine to topple over. This resulted in damage to 22 vehicles, some damaged severely.

At least six freight vehicle drivers had remained in their cabs on the vehicle decks during the crossing and four were found in cabs of vehicles that had toppled over. One driver was trapped and had to be freed by the emergency services when the ship arrived in Cairnryan.

Toppled trucks and crushed van on deck
Toppled trucks and crushed van on deck | Image Credits:

Safety issues

  • the route being followed had not been adjusted sufficiently to mitigate the effects of the sea conditions and reduce the likelihood of severe rolling
  • the cargo lashings applied were insufficient for the forecasted weather conditions and the ship’s approved cargo securing manual provided limited guidance to ship’s staff
  • drivers remaining in their vehicles during the ferry’s passage, in contravention of international regulations and company policy, was not uncommon and is an industry-wide issue
  • Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents


A recommendation (2020/107) has been made to P&O Ferries Ltd to amend their SMS to provide specific guidance on the lashing of cargo in heavy weather.


One Comment

  1. If the freight had been properly lashed with at least 8 lashings per trailor preferably chains and swan neck bars and 4 to each cab, then the freight would have been secure and not moved. This would never have happened 20 years ago when I was a Rigger. Every lashing would have been tight, we Riggers ensured that there was no room for error. All cargo regardless of ship was always always lashed correctly and securely. The blame for this incident must lie with the Chief Officer and he/she should pay the ultimate price. Lives at sea and the safety of the ship and cargo are absolute paramount at all times.

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