A ferry master’s lack of appreciation of the effects of wind and seas while approaching Havnsø on 1 December 2009, combined with distraction caused by a problem with bow-thrusters while alone on the bridge led to a contact incident which injured several passengers, one severely, aboard the ro-ro Sejerøfærgen.
Denmark’s Division for Investigation of Maritime Accidents reports: “Sejerøfærgen is a Ro-Ro passenger ferry with a tonnage of 1,433 BT and a length of 48.50 m. It was built in 1998. The ferry is in service between Sejerø and Havnsø. The crossing time is approximately 1 hour.
On arrival at Havnsø 1 December 2009 at 0740 the ferry hit the north eastern corner of the ferry berth with great force. There were 25 passengers on board. 4 passengers received minor injuries when falling. One passenger was seriously injured falling down a flight of stairs. The injured passenger was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Five vehicles on the car deck were damaged.
Sejerøfærgen was damaged at the bow at starboard side. Some brackets in the fore peak tank were bent. There were no ingress of water.
After a short detention the ferry returned to normal operation.
It is the opinion of the Division for Investigation of Maritime Accidents that the causes to the accident were:
- Too high a speed at approach due to the master’s underestimation of the effect of wind and seas.
- Problems with the bow thrusters reduced the master’s alertness at approach causing the maneuvering to be performed to late and without adequate efficiency.
- The fact that the master was alone on the bridge may have been why passengers were not warned about the collision and thus were subject to injuries.
- A fresh breeze was coming in from astern.
- Stay in the staircases may be risky.