Arc en Ciel - Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray english summary

On 22 April, towards 10.30, a self propelled barge, the Arc en Ciel which was travelling down the Seine after having on the 20 April at Gennevilliers having taken on a cargo of containers for Le Havre, lost 30 containers just down-river from Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray near Herqueville.
Shortly after leaving the Notre-Dame de la Garenne lock, at the beginning of a sharp curve to the right, the barge listed sharply to port. It was at this moment that part of the cargo of containers fell into the water.
The danger caused by the presence of the containers drifting and others having sunk led the Seine Navigation Board to close the waterway between the Notre-Dame de la Garenne and Amfreville locks. This stretch was only re-opened on 29 April 2007.
The barge which only suffered slight damage was able to tie up at the Herqueville landing stage.
There were no casualties and no pollution.

The accident was a direct consequence of the instability of the Arc en Ciel due to the stacking of the cargo.
The fact that the barge was not checked for stability before casting off was also a direct cause of the accident.

This lack of checks seems linked to three factors :
 the absence of a regulatory requirement for such verification, unless the journey was to be in the maritime waters of the Seine, and here the regulations are not very clear
 the skipper’s lack of training on issues linked to stability
 the absence of documentation on board on methods of checking stability in a form that was clear enough to be understood by the skipper.

Two factors contributed to the instability brought about by the loading :
 the unsuitable nature of the software used by the barge’s owner to check the loading plan
 the absence of checks and penalties when the load did not meet the loading plan or when there was a large difference in the weight of the container when loaded as compared with the weight given by the shipper.

Seven safety recommendations were made at the end of the technical investigation concerning the four groups of factors identified :
 the regulations concerning the stability of cargos on board vessels and the monitoring of the application of these rules, with three recommendations
 the training of barge skippers to properly take into account stability regulations, with one recommendation
 the functioning of the logistic chain and the understanding of the nature of containers by all those involved in the transport and handling of them, with two recommendations
 feedback, in conjunction with other European countries, with one recommendation.

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