TRITON - Foundering on 18 July 2015


On 18 July 2015, the pilot boat TRITON foundered as result of a flooded engine compartment caused by a mechanical breakdown of the drive shaft that penetrated the aluminium hull. TRITON was not designed to stay afloat with a flooded engine compartment and foundered approximately 10 minutes after the initial breakdown of the drive shaft.

TRITON was in its design and construction not sufficiently robust to withstand such a mechanical malfunction. The accident thereby shows the importance of having a preventive maintenance program in place on smaller boats that have little or no redundancy in terms of residual buoyancy or emergency bilge pumps.

The boatman managed to abandon the boat in a controlled and calm manner because he responded early and inflated the life raft almost immediately after having observed the ingress of water. Other accidents related to flooding on other small commercial vessels such as fishing vessels highlight the challenges associated with water ingress and the importance of having the lifesaving equipment readily available. Having a life raft forward and aft of the ship enhanced the chances of the boatman abandoning the boat safely.

The report can be downloaded in PDF format here.