Evidence of Marek Cichomski, ship's master  

P You have been at sea since 1984?
MC Yes
P - You obtained your master's licence in 1994?
MC - Yes.

P You became chief officer of the Cambrook in June 1997?

MC Yes.

P Between June 1997 and April 1998 how many times did you sail to Shoreham?

MC 25

P What was the usual cargo?

MC Furnace slag.

P was it discharged automatically.

MC The ship's self discharge system is operated by the ship's crew.

P So the Cambrook's staff controlled the automated discharge?

MC Yes.

P Where would they be to do this?

MC Inside the moving discharge equipment facing aft.

P This can be seen on tab 3 photo 11. On 5 occasions between June 1997 and April 1998 you carried bags as well as slag?

MC Yes.

P How were they unloaded?

MC With chain slings attached to the excavator grab.

P Would members of the crew help discharge the bags?

MC No.

P Would you be expected to provide a banksman?

MC No, it would not generally be a job for the crew.

P There is a document prepared by the ship's agent. Are the entries accurate?

MC Yes. The document was prepared while the crew were opening the hatch covers. The discharge started at 9.30 not 9.15.

P You came from Flushing ?

MC Yes.

P Had you expected to arrive earlier?

MC No. We arrived on time.

P Did you need to come in on the tide?

MC Yes the entrance is shallow, we had to wait for the tide and go in 3 hours before high water.

P Do you remember seeing Roger Grant?

MC Yes he was on board.

P Did he ask you to provide anyone to help?

MC Yes he asked me to provide someone to help discharge the bags.

P Is that normal?

MC I can't really say no; it happens often that port agents ask for assistance. It isn't unusual.

P Did Grant ask for particular job to be done?

MC No. Just 2 people to help.

P Was it the normal time to discharge the cargo?

MC Yes, it was a good time, the tide was still rising. I sent one man to the quayside to unhook the bags and the other to the hold.

P Did Grant ask for a banksman?

MC No.

P Where were you at this time?

MC In my cabin. I had no view of the hold.

P Did you stay in the cabin?

MC Yes I had paper work to complete.

P What was the first you knew of something going wrong?

MC Kasprzak came and told me. I took a camera and took some photographs for my reports.

P Were the photos later handed to the police?

MC Yes.

P The bill of lading shows that there was 2419 tonnes of slag and 125 tonnes of bags of stones. The time for loading in Flushing shows 3 hours?

MC Yes 3 hours for the slag, not for the stones. The stones were loaded after the slag.

P This was done in Holland the stones were loaded separately?

MC Yes.

 

D Did you need to discharge the cargo within a time limit to avoid grounding?

MC Grounding is what happens when the ship is moving. In port it is taking the bottom. In some places it is dangerous. I was interested in keeping the ship afloat as much as possible during discharge to shorten the contact with the ground.

D Bottoming may cause problems with the automatic discharge?

MC Yes if the ship is not level. The draft is not the same fore and aft and it could damage the rudder. If the ship bottoms with the fore part first that is safer.

D The unloading had to continue even after the death?

MC Yes I asked for permission. The company was interested in leaving the port as soon as possible.

D You needed to continue discharging?

MC The cargo operation had stopped. It was restarted around 13.00 hours after the body had been removed.

D How long did you have to discharge the cargo to prevent bottoming?

MC 6 hours.

D Would it normally take 6 hours to discharge that cargo?

MC Yes. We had lost 3 hours.

D How much leeway would you have?

MC On spring tides very little.

D So time was important?

MC Yes. We needed to leave as soon as possible.

D Would the excavator be called in to get some of the loose cargo?

MC Yes. It could be done.

D Did you consider Kasprzak to be very capable?

MC Yes he was a very good seaman.

D Was it Grant who decided which job Kasprzak did?

MC Yes.

D If he was unsuitable Grant would send the man back?

MC Yes.

 

P Was the Cambrook a flat-bottomed boat?

MC Yes.

P The discharge was complete at 19.00 and you sailed at 20.00?

MC Yes.

P Had there been any damage from bottoming?

MC No.

P Did the ship have its own bobcat?

MC Yes.

P Was it working?

MC Yes.

P Would it normally be used to tidy up while discharging?

MC Yes.

P Was the bobcat alone enough for tidying up?

MC Yes.

P Would you have need of another one?

MC No.

P On previous visits had the bobcat from Euromin ever been used in the hold?

MC I don't remember but I don't think so.

 

D While discharging any movement of the vessel is very slight?

MC No it was moving quite heavily and bumping against the quayside.

Shoreham is a small port; there was a lot of swell and wind. The ship was not protected because it was outside the lock.

 

J Where did you expect your second crew man to go?

MC Into the hold. This was usually the easiest way.

 

P Would the grab ever be used for sweeping?

MC Yes it is possible. Harris was an excellent operator and would help out.

P Had he helped previously?

MC Yes I think so. If we were late he could get a few grabs full of cargo and it would save a lot of time.