Wightlink ro-ro ferry St. Faith landed heavily on fendering at Portsmouth after attempts to correct a higher than normal speed of approach to the berth left insufficient ahead power being available, says the MAIB’s preliminary report.
At 1412 BST on 28 March 2010, the ro-ro passenger ferry, St Faith, landed heavily against fendering while attempting to berth at the Camber Basin linkspan in Portsmouth. Two persons suffered minor injuries and the vessel’s stern ramp was damaged.
On arrival in Portsmouth Harbour, St Faith’s intended berth was occupied by another ferry. As soon as the berth became available, the master manoeuvred St Faith stern-first into Camber Basin, reaching a maximum speed of 8.4 knots. This was faster than normal and increased the ferry’s radius of turn as she approached the berth.
Consequently, the ferry was further south than intended, and a significant amount of lateral thrust was applied using the vessel’s Voith Schneider propulsion units to align the stern ramp with the linkspan. The use of lateral force resulted in insufficient ahead power being available to prevent the ferry’s stern ramp from hitting the linkspan fendering at a speed of about 4.5 knots. Although the master had been on duty for the previous 9 hours, it was not considered likely that fatigue was contributory to this accident.
The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to Wightlink Limited strongly advising that, in addition to the action the company has already taken, all available means are used to monitor its vessels’ speed of approach when berthing.