Denmark’s Maritime Authority says that the operations manual for the Bornholmstrafikken-owned, Austal-built ferry Villem Clausen did not provide the vessel’s master with sufficient information regarding safe speed in heavy weather. This contributed to the vessel slamming into ‘one or more waves’ at 33-35 knots on 11 January 2010, during a crossing from Ystad in Sweden to Rønne on the island of Bornholm.
Six passengers were thrown out of their seats and injured as was one crewmember when the vessel hit the waves. Upon arrival in Rønne, two of the six injured passengers had to be treated at the local hospital. The most severe injury was a broken hip.
The slamming caused severe indentations in the bow.
The gas-turbine driven catamaran can carry up to 1,040 passengers at a top speed of 50knots. It holds the record for the longest mileage in 24 hours for a passenger vessel. At the time of the incident the ferry was travelling at about 41knots to 42knots.
The Danish Division for Investigation of Marine Accidents says: “The speed reduction from 41-42 knots to 33-35 knots was insufficient to ensure a safe crossing given the actual conditions.
“When choosing the speed he considered safe, the master did not pay sufficient attention to the weather, the sea state and the possibilities for observing the waves and the geographic conditions in the area.”
The authority has recommended that the ship owner “considers means which will prevent passengers from being injured in future similar incidents” and says that “The existing service restrictions for the vessel stated in the approved Craft Operational Manual is considered insufficient as a tool for deciding a safe speed in a given condition in the actual geographic area”.
It recommends that the “ship owner develops a decision-support system for assistance when deciding on a safe speed in a given condition. Such a support system should consider local as well as actual conditions and, in this way, assist in ensuring the safety of passengers and crew as well as in preventing structural damages to the vessel. It is recommended that this support system is integrated in the existing ISM/SMS system for the vessel”.
In October 2009 Villem Clausen was also involved in a contact incident with the wharf at Rønne harbour.