A disconnected cable resulted in the master being unable to put the engine into neutral or astern from ahead and a subsequent hard contact with the jetty at Nybrokajen says the Swedish Transport Agency. Some 24 passengers one injured, including one broken collarbone.
Why the cable disconnected is unknown and no disconnection alarm was fitted. A casual observation would not have revealed the problem because of the cable covering. The incident does highlight the need to initiate critical manouevres with enough time to take appropriate action.
Says the Swedish Transport Agency report: “The 65-GT passenger vessel Djurgården 4 was used for hop-on hop-off sightseeing cruises in the Stockholm area. The cruises, with a number of intermediate stops, started and ended at Nybrokajen located at the end of Nybroviken, a small bay between Östermalm and Blasieholmen. At every stop the vessel went with the bow in towards the jetty and was kept in position by the propulsion.
On the 18th of August at 16.30 at Nybrokajen the master and the deckhand relieved the regular crew on board Djurgården 4 for dinner break. After a verbal handover the vessel departed on the one-hour cruise.
After departure from the jetty at the Vasa museum there were 75 passengers on board and the master set the course back to Nybrokajen, a distance of approximately 0.5 nautical miles.
In Nybroviken there were several other passenger vessels berthed along the quay sides. As Djurgården 4 was in line with the vessels on the northern side of the bay the master put the gear in neutral to slow down. At this time the deck hand was standing at the forward gate. The passengers were getting ready for arrival and many of them were standing on the forward area of the vessel.
At a distance of 50-60 meters from the jetty the master put the gear in reverse in order to stop the vessel at the berth. He soon realized that there was no response on the maneuver and the vessel continued towards the jetty. In an attempt to get reverse power, the master put the throttle handle to maximum for a short moment. But, instead of slowing down, the speed increased so he immediately put the handle in neutral again. The distance to the jetty was 30-40 meters when the master grabbed the microphone to the public address
system and informed the people on board to hold on. He also initiated a portside turn to avoid hitting the jetty.
At 17.25 hours Djurgården 4 ran into the jetty at Nybrokajen at a speed of approximately 5-7 knots. The deckhand jumped over the forward railing just as the vessel hit the jetty.
He landed ashore, immediately called the emergency number 112 and then assisted in mooring the vessel. On board Djurgården 4 the situation got chaotic when the passengers could not open the forward gate to disembark the vessel. The crew members quickly opened the gate and evacuated the passengers.
In total 24 persons were injured of which eleven were taken to hospital for check up. All, except one person with a fractured collarbone, could leave the hospital the same day. The vessel sustained damage to the hull and the superstructure.
Djurgården 4 was equipped with an electronic control system for the engine and gear box. From the control handles in the wheelhouse the signals were transmitted electronically down to a unit in the engine room. In the unit the signals were converted into mechanical through two control cables, one for the throttle and one for the gear box. The unit had several alarm functions but none in case a control cable was broken.
In the inspection after the accident the reason for the failed reverse maneuver was traced to the control cable for the gearbox. The wire inside the control cable was found detached from the rod at the engine end and the gear shift lever was still in forward. It was not possible to see the damage because the connection was covered.
The investigation concluded that main factors contributing to the accident were the end of the wire detached from the rod at the engine end of the control cable for unknown reason when the gear was in forward the master did not notice that the reverse gear failed until it was too late to make
an evasive maneuver.
As a result of the investigation, a number of recommendations have been issued to Strömma Turism och sjöfart and to the Swedish Transport Agency.