Marfret Marivel - Bezons english summary

At about 05:40 on Monday, 16 March 2012 on the River Seine at the upstream end of Île Saint-Martin in the municipality of Bezons (Val-d’Oise), the MARFRET MARIVEL, the hull of a cargo vessel about 100 m in length, sailing from Rouen to Gennevilliers loaded with 465 tons of containers, collided several times with the base of the railway bridge pillars at Bezons. The vessel continued along its route and at about 05:52 its containers and its wheelhouse collided with the Bezons road bridge deck.
With the first impact against the pillars of the railway bridge at Bezons, a large hole was made in the hull of the boat at the forepeak 1. The sheeting 2 at the base of one of the pillars of the Bezons railway bridge was damaged. The second impact damaged numerous containers and the telescopic wheelhouse of the vessel was crushed. The deck of the Bezons road bridge did not appear to be damaged.
There were no casualties.

The direct cause of the impact with the pillar of the Bezons railway bridge was incorrect assessment of the position of the boat in relation to the passage of vessels passing upstream under this bridge due to the position of the navigational radar of the MARFRET MARIVEL, which had large blind spots in which objects were not detected.
Several factors contributed to this accident or exacerbated its consequences :

  • the load consisted of three layers of containers on the fore part of the hold which created an obstacle to the propagation of radar waves, substantially increasing the blind spots at the bows and the starboard side of the boat, probably reducing the quality of the radar image due to multiple wave reflections between the containers ;
  • absence of an electronic navigation chart which would have made it easier to control the position of the boat in its environment when superimposed on the radar image and to monitor changes when the telescopic wheelhouse of the boat was lowered, temporarily causing a blind spot at the bows ;
  • absence of a green sign marking the pillar of the Bezons railway bridge, which the boat should have left to starboard, and of lights to mark the passage under the bridge, which was dark.

Without issuing a formal recommendation, BEA-TT drew the attention of the MANFRET shipping company to :

  • the fact that it must ensure that the navigation licence of its vessels authorises radar navigation by a single person before they are allowed to navigate at night or in reduced visibility without a lookout ;
  • a requirement for the captains it employs to possess a certificate of capacity corresponding to the vessel and to the navigation carried out and a radar certificate when the vessel is required to navigate at night or in fog.

BEA-TT also did not issue any formal recommendation to Voies Navigables de France (French navigable waterways), but :

  • pointed out that this establishment is rapidly developing electronic navigation chart databases on the river Seine, which is an essential prerequisite to the widespread use of an Inland ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) on this river, since if the data are correctly updated and brought into line with the environment, this instrument improves the safety of navigation on inland waterways.
  • encouraged it to ensure that the spars marking the passages under bridges on the river Seine are all present and equipped with radar reflectors and that the passage lights under the bridges are in working order and sufficiently bright to be seen by vessels moving at night.
Notes et références

1On internal waterway navigation vessels, the wheelhouse refers to a compartment located in the bows which serves as a store or room for auxiliary machines for example.

2Metal planks slotted edge-to-edge

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