Saturday 3 January 2015

Emerging Incident: " Cemfjord " Vessel Capsized off nr Orkney Islands (3 January 2015)

News is now being reported of a cargo ship found abandoned and upturned in the Pentland Firth (between Mainland Scotland and the Orkney Islands). The vessel is the "Cemfjord" and she was spotted capsized by the passing Orkney ferry.

She appears to have been carrying cement from Denmark to the UK, and voyages of cement from Scandinavia appear to have been the mainstay of her operations; hence the name. Given the recent press about liquefaction there will be questions about whether the cement cargo mixed with, or turned to, water which brought her down. 

("Cemfjord" at sail last year)

(Capsized "Cemfjord" spotted 3 January 2015)

Vessel: Cement Carrier "Cemfjord" (IMO No. 8403569)

P & I Club: Skuld

GT: 1,850

Build: 1984 (30 years old)

Flag: Cyprus

Operator: Brise Schiffahrts GmbH

Numbers Onboard: 8 crew

Voyage: Aalborg, Denmark - Runcorn, UK.

Incident: It is not yet clear what happened, other than some sudden and unexpected event which seemingly gave no notice for the crew to take to lifeboats, nor allow the Captain to issue a distress call. If the incident had been in say Indonesia, liquefaction may come to mind as a possible cause, but given the stringent controls in place in Denmark this seems less likely. As there does not appear to have been a distress call and as the sailing conditions at the time of loss have been described as 'pretty, pretty awful' by the local RNLI, a rogue wave seems the more likely explanation. 


Anonymous 4 January 2015 at 00:08  

30 year old coasters have no place in northern waters in winter.
God bless the lost crew members.

Anonymous 4 January 2015 at 02:31  

Can we factor in the vicious tides experienced in the Peatland Firth. I can remember going through there sideways on an 11 knot iron ore carrier. Are the tide rips experienced here large enough to get the ship moving such that the cargo would shift. Would strong winds on a lee tide be strong enough. This happened very quickly, which suggests a sudden cargo shift and capsize. How prone is cement in bulk to 'slurrying'. I would imagine the Danes would demand a Flow Moisture Test before loading.Is a certificate required.

Anonymous 4 January 2015 at 03:19  

Just looked at the image of the ship again. Noticed the foremast is bent well back at an angle of about 45 degrees. This can only come from the ship taking a very heavy head sea over the bow and bending it backwards. Such a sea may well have overwhelmed the ship.It seems all that is keeping her afloat right now is the air trapped in her forepeak tank.

Anonymous 4 January 2015 at 09:26  

Weather in these waters does not discriminate on the age of vessels sailing through the channels. 30 yrs or freshly built (Titanic anyone ?) makes no difference when up against the extreme forces & conditions of Mother Nature. This is the same sea area that caused the loss of the Longhope lifeboat in 1969.

A. Jacobs 4 January 2015 at 10:43  

My question is why on earth was a ship going from Denmark to England navigating the Pentland Firth in the middle of Winter, wouldn'tthe English Channel have been a better option?

bollocks 4 January 2015 at 11:31  

this ship has been regularly doing this trip overladen by up to 300 tonnes. Its gross capacity is 1850tonnes, while its has been reported to have run aground carrying 2100 tonnes last year with a drunk at the helm. It is reported to be carrying 2000 tonnes on this fateful voyage.

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