UK MAIB issued its 2020 Safety Digest, discussing about a passenger ferry which lost control due to weather conditions, as the master was unaware of an alternative quay and the local environmental conditions.

When a computer passenger ferry was approaching the berth, it lost control due to a combination of the local tidal effect and a strong wind. The weather conditions led to the vessel’s starboard bow being damaged after making heavy contact with the quay.

Yet, all 42 passengers onboard remained safe, and there were no injuries reported.

Structural damage to the ferry’s starboard bow after the impact

The ferry’s normal berth was not available so an alternative quay was in use. However, the relief master who was making the approach was not familiar with the alternative berth or the local environmental conditions.

Lessons Learned 

In reference to the incident, UK MAIB commented that

This case is a good illustration that accidents rarely have a single causal factor.

They add that there is often a chain of events that can lead to something going wrong.

In this case, the unusual berth, the relief master’s lack of familiarity with the environment, the tidal stream and the breezy conditions all added up to create a potentially hazardous situation.

Passage planning is key. Every vessel, irrespective of its size or purpose, needs a passage plan that takes into account all the hazards that could be encountered. Even for a small passenger ferry  undertaking a short commuter route, the crew and the vessel’s managers need to think through all the imaginable scenarios and provide the best mitigation possible. In this case, some additional supervision could have been provided for the relief master until he was fully familiar with the alternative berth.

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