MP calls for early report into Wightlink deck collapse

By Matthew McKew

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

 

MP calls for early report into Wightlink deck collapse

The collapsed Wightlink car deck. Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner has called for a report into the incident to be published as soon as possible. Picture courtesy of Shane Thornton.

ISLE of Wight MP Andrew Turner has called for a report into the Wightlink car deck collapse to be published as soon as possible.

In a statement issued today (Tuesday), Mr Turner said he had raised the incident the with new Minister responsible for Maritime issues, the Rt Hon John Hayes MP.

Investigations are underway, but it could take months for a final report to be issued by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) to publish a final report, according to Mr Turner.

He said: "Everybody is thankful that this did not lead to more serious injuries, but nonetheless it must have been really frightening for all involved.  Many people are alarmed that this could have happened at all, and are asking whether there is a failsafe system in place.  It is also being said that the St Helen passed an independent engineering assessment as recently as May.

"The MAIB acted very quickly in starting a full investigation, and we all understand these things take time to investigate properly. Hundreds of thousands of people use the ferries every year; they are the lifeline to the Island and people need to be reassured they are safe.  

"I have therefore asked the minister to do all he can to get the formal MAIB report published as quickly as possible. In the meantime the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will have to certify the St Helen as safe before she can be used again. 

"There is nothing more important than the safety of passengers. We now need as much information as possible from Wightlink to reassure the travelling public."

Mr Turner said he was concerned that differing accounts of the accident had been circulating and therefore asked for the MAIB to supply him with some further details which are copied below:

"The MAIB has begun an investigation into the collapse of the starboard forward mezzanine deck on board the Wightlink ferry St Helen in Fishbourne, Isle of Wight that occurred at about 22:10 on July, 18, 2014.   Regulations prevent me from disclosing details of formal accident reports made in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2012.  However, for the sake of clarity and to avoid speculation I can confirm the basic details of the accident as they are understood at present.

"St Helen was berthed at Fishbourne and was in the process of disembarking its passengers and their vehicles. The vehicles on the starboard main deck had been disembarked and the deck crew were in the process of lowering the forward edge of the starboard forward mezzanine deck to the main deck level. There were about 10 cars on the forward section of the starboard mezzanine deck; the passengers were seated in their cars and one crewman was positioned on the forward outboard edge of the deck. When the front edge of the suspended mezzanine deck was around 2m off the main deck, its inboard hoisting cable parted. The forward inboard edge of the mezzanine deck then dropped to the main deck level causing the crewman and three passengers (seated in their cars) to be injured. The crewman suffered concussion and a cut to the head; the passengers are understood to have suffered whiplash related injuries."

The MAIB sai the investigation was at an early stage, but was focussing on:

•    The cause of the wire failure

•    The company’s inspection and maintenance regime

•    Deck operations

•    Any other associated factors identified during the course of the investigation

Reporter: matthewm@iwcpmail.co.uk

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