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'ELECTRONIC CHART FIXATION' BLAMED FOR FERRY ACCIDENT

Monday, February 24, 2020 

The UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its Investigation report into marine accident involving the Red Funnel-operated ferry 'Red Falcon' and a moored yacht in Cowes Harbour, Isle of Wight, in October 2018.

The report says that when navigating in severely reduced visibility in Cowes Harbour, the master of the ro-pax ferry Red Falcon lost orientation when his vessel swung out of control, departed the navigable channel and was spun around through 220°. In his confusion the master drove the ferry in the wrong direction resulting in a collision with the moored yacht Greylag which was sunk on its mooring as a result. Fortunately nobody was on board the yacht at the time, although other nearby vessels were occupied. There were no injuries or pollution, and the ferry was not damaged, although the yacht was declared a total loss.

The report identified the following safety issues:

  • The master became fixated upon the information displayed on his electronic chart and operating engine controls, ignored information displayed on other electronic equipment, and became cognitively overloaded due to high stress
  • The bridge team became disengaged from the operation due to a lack of clear communications and emergency scenario training
  • The hazard to people sleeping on yachts in Cowes Harbour had not been sufficiently mitigated within risk assessments.

Red Funnel has been recommended to conduct regular assessment of ship-handling capabilities including pilotage by instruments alone, and to review the shipboard method of determining orientation displayed on the ship’s electronic charting system.

The Cowes Harbour Commission and the Cowes Yacht Haven have been recommended to review their risk assessments for collision between a commercial vessel and raft of yachts moored at their marinas detailing mitigating measures that are within their control to implement.

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