Denmark’s Maritime Authority has released its report into the contact of the catamaran ro-ro ferry Villum Clausen and the quay at berth 10, Rønne harbour on 3 October 2009. Poor weather made berthing difficult, there were no security procedures for disembaking passengers from the car deck following damage to the gangway, and a seafarer was too overloaded with simultaneous tasks to communication problems to the bridge effectively.
Says the report:
“During manoeuvring to berth the ship got a headfast attached to a bollard ashore, which was very tight.
The master could subsequently not manoeuvre the stern to the quay and instead hit the quay with the bow. After contact with the quay the following damage to the ship was found: Hole in the forward mooring deck to the starboard. Bulge in the corner of the bonnet; Minor crack in the forepeak; Starboard bulb broken off. No passengers or crew members got physically injured. A seaman was subsequently absent owing to illness.
The wind came from a SSE direction with a speed of 15 m / s and was increasing. It was planned that Villum Clausen was to be laid up at berth 10 the rest of the day, due to voyage restrictions and that Povl Anker was to replace the crossing.
Analysis and conclusion
The gangway hanger broke because of swells in the port of departure, Ystad, and pedestrian passengers came on board via the car deck, which meant that pedestrian passengers also were to disembark from the car deck.
The ship’s captain had acknowledged that the ship, given the weather situation, would be difficult to manoeuvre, why he chose to go straight to berth 10.
By crossing the outer breakwater a notice was given via the PA system. It is not clear what information this notice included. Most passengers on board subsequently went to the car deck. There is no procedure in the ship’s security system, for dealing with pedestrian passengers who must embark or disembark the ship via the car deck and will be staying on the car deck before arrival or after departure.
It was not possible to manoeuvre VILLUM CLAUSEN safely to berth 10 under the prevailing weather conditions.
By the contact with quay more passengers than usual stayed on the car deck and between the cars.
It is the assessment of the Division for Investigation of Maritime Accident that staying between the cars in similar situations, with shock to the ship or hard deceleration, may pose a risk of squeezing.
The ship’s starboard bulb broke off at the contact with quay as it is designed to.
After the accident more notices were announced on the car deck via the PA system. According to a passenger it was not possible not hear the notices. It is not clear what the content of these notices consisted of.
There is no procedure in the ship’s security system, for dealing with pedestrian passengers who must embark or disembark the ship via the car deck when the ship is at berth.
The seaman who was alone on the quarterdeck moved around between slack mooring ropes on the deck, as he was unable to remove these, and several times during the mooring operation the mooring rope slipped of the capstan.
The seaman found it difficult to pass on the communication to the bridge because of the noise on deck and multiple simultaneous tasks.
During mooring passengers stayed close to the quarter deck. The quarterdeck was not cordoned off.
The Division for Investigation of Maritime Accidents recommends the ship owner, in light of this accident, to make a risk assessment for use of berth 10 and take actions accordingly. In the risk assessment the following should be considered:
• The ship’s manoeuvrability in strong winds.
• Pedestrian passenger traffic on the car decks.
The Company has indicated that the problem with pedestrian passengers on the car deck has arisen in connection with the redevelopment of Ystad port. There has after the incident been developed a procedure for handling pedestrian passenger of the car deck, which will be implemented in the ship’s SMS.