Loke: Human error caused MV Pireas-Polaris collision

Investigation finds MV Pireas’ captain negligent on 4 offences for the collision


THE collision between a Malaysian vessel and Greece-registered bulk vessel MV Pireas in Johor was caused by manoeuvring error by the foreign ship’s captain, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke (picture).

He said an investigation conducted by the Marine Department on the collision (Feb 9, 2019) found “human error” to be the cause of the collision between Pireas and Malaysian Marine Department’s vessel Polaris .

The investigation found MV Pireas’ captain negligent on four offences under the Merchant Shipping Order (Collision Rules) 1984, Loke told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

“The captain of MV Pireas had failed to take positive action, as well as good seamanship compliance,” Loke added.

The minister said the probe, which was concluded on March 12, found that the foreign ship’s captain failed in plotting radars and performing systematic observations to notice warnings on a potential collision with Malaysian vessel Polaris.

“Additionally, the Pireas’ captain while approaching Polaris, has failed to take effective action to ensure his vessel collides with Polaris in a safe distance,” he said.

Loke was responding to Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (Pasir Mas-PAS) who asked on the cause of the collision between MV Pireas and Polaris.

The captain can be penalised under Section 252(3) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952, which stipulates a fine not exceeding RM10,000 for each offence.

“The investigation papers are being finalised to be sent to the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s Office in Johor for a follow-up action to either prosecute or offer a compound,” Loke added.

To recap, the collision between Polaris and Greek merchant ship MV Pireas took place on Feb 9, 2019, when the foreign vessel was on its way from Singapore to its next port-of-call at Tanjung Pelepas.

As the collision was not a serious marine casualty incident under the International Maritime Organisation Marine Casualty Investigation Code, the vessel was allowed to proceed its journey to Tanjung Pelepas.

During the investigation period, the MV Pireas vessel was not allowed to sail out and was directed to anchor at the Tanjung Pelepas Port, according to Loke.

“The crew was also not allowed to leave the ship to assist in the investigation,” he said, adding that the vessel was allowed to sail to its next destination after the probe was completed on March 12.

A bank guarantee worth RM1 million had been deposited by the MV Pireas vessel owner to the Marine Department for the purpose of securing compound payments and also for repair works on Polaris.

“In order to avoid similar incidents from recurring, the Marine Department has recommended the use of pilots for vessels wishing to enter the Johor Baru port boundary.

“The use of guided pilots who are — local environmental experts and have the experience in handling the movements of a vessel will help reduce the risk of collision when ships enter the Johor Baru port boundaries and allow vessels to dock safely at the port,” Loke said.