Ferry sank yacht after confused master steered the wrong way

Trade Winds By Gary Dixon

A UK ferry smashed into a yacht before grounding after its master became disorientated in poor visibility and steered the ship in the wrong direction.

The accident happened on the morning of 21 October 2018 in Cowes Harbour when operator Red Funnel's 4,100-gt ro-pax Red Falcon (built 1994) collided with and sank a boat called Greylag, which was moored at the time.

Red Falcon passed through the yacht moorings and ran aground in soft mud, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) reported.

The ship was re-floated and suffered no damage. There were no injuries sustained to passengers or crew, and no pollution. Greylag was a constructive total loss.

Red Falcon was entering Cowes in bad fog.

The helmsman experienced difficulty steering due to the lack of visual references and his lack of practice steering by digital compass alone into Cowes Harbour, MAIB said. This led to the master taking over control and operating the steering and propulsion himself.

“Critically, the role of keeping an oversight of operations was then lost,” MAIB added.

“The poor visibility required the master to rely totally upon his instrumentation. His lack of practice using instruments alone to manoeuvre the ferry resulted in over-correction of steering, which led to the vessel swinging to port out of the channel, ultimately turning through 220 degrees.”

The subsequent collision and grounding occurred because the master lost his orientation in the fog and drove the ferry in the wrong direction, MAIB found.

The report contains details of what happened, the subsequent actions taken and recommendations made: read more.

Read the full story at Trade Winds.

JPK August 2023
Race Yachts