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You are here: Skip Navigation LinksDanish Maritime Accident Investigation BoardNewsMarine accident report on loss of tow accident with AMBER II and SEA WORKER on 27 January 2016

Marine accident report on loss of tow accident with AMBER II and SEA WORKER on 27 January 2016 

16. December 2016

The Maltese tug AMBER II departed Frederikshavn on 24 January 2016 with its tow, the Danish manned installation jack-up platform SEA WORKER. The towage was bound for Esbjerg with an estimated time of arrival 26 January in the morning. The towing line between AMBER II and SEA WORKER broke on 27 January 2016, two and a half days after departure, while the towage was located in the North Sea, 6 nm off the west coast of Jutland and was facing difficulties making speed due to wind, waves and current. When the towing connection was lost, the tug did not succeed in reconnecting by means of the emergency towing equipment. As the platform was drifting uncontrollably towards shore, it was evacuated, because it was deemed dangerous for the crew to stay on board during the grounding.

In the report, the DMAIB concludes that no single cause could explain why the tow was lost, but that the accident happened as a result of organisational factors, which had an effect on how this particular towage operation was planned and carried out. SEA WORKER was operated with a project-driven strategy which entailed an ad hoc problem solving approach to work and a mind-set that all problems that arose could be resolved one way or another. On this voyage, it was not until the organisation ran out of solutions to seemingly isolated problems that the involved persons realized that the towage operation had changed from a manageable operational situation into an emergency. This realization did not occur simultaneously throughout the organisation, just as the perception of the criticality of the situation varied among the involved persons. These differences in perception were enhanced by an organisational fragmentation which occurred as the situation grew in complexity.

When the emergency was evident to all involved, the ship was too close to shore, which meant that the response time for help exceeded the expected time for when the platform would drift aground. In other words, the opportunity for ad hoc problem solving had narrowed in time and distance and the only solution left was to abandon the platform.

The owner of SEA WORKER has informed the DMAIB of the preventive measures taken in order to, inter alia, enhance the robustness of the organisations marine operations.

The marine accident report has been prepared in English and is available here.

For further information, please contact marine accident investigator Grete Horsboel by phone + 45 91 37 63 05 or email

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Responsible for this article
Grete Horsbøl
Marine Accident Investigator
Phone: +45 91 37 63 05