Grounding and recovery of container feeder vessel Thea II and tug Svitzer Josephine

Marine Accident Investigation Branch

August 12
23:00 2020

Accident Investigation Report 15/2020

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, actions taken and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 15-2020: Thea II and Svitzer Josephine

Video still from SAR helicopter footage showing both vessel aground

Image: MCA


On the evening of 15 December 2018, while approaching the Humber pilot station the container feeder vessel Thea II suffered an engine failure and had to anchor to await tugs to tow it into harbour. In storm force conditions, the container vessel dragged its anchor towards the Binks Shoal. Unfortunately, both Thea II and the tug, Svitzer Josephine, ran aground before it could be towed clear. Later that night both vessels refloated with the tide. Svitzer Josephine was able to return to harbour under its own power. After some delays while the ship managers tried to negotiate contractual terms with another tug operator, Thea II was towed clear of the bank and was eventually towed into Hull two days later. There were no injuries and no pollution.

Safety issues

  • Thea II dragged its anchor because sufficient chain and/or the second anchor had not been used.
  • Svitzer Josephine grounded because its master, who was focused on securing the towline to the stricken container vessel and did not have a navigational plan to keep his vessel safe, became disorientated.
  • The delays in Thea II securing a tow after refloating were due to the managers lack of awareness of their vessels situation. They eventually approved a tow when the UK Secretary of States representative (SOSREP) threatened to issue direction.


A recommendation (2020/128) has been made to Thea IIs mangers to review the companys emergency response organisation.

MCA SAR footage

Video from search and rescue helicopter on the night.

Published 13 August 2020