An investigation into the tragic yacht collision found failings on both parties involved
An investigation into a fatal yacht collision off Felixstowe last year has found that neither the skipper aboard the yacht Orca or the chief officer of the dredger Shoreway were keeping a proper lookout.
The two vessels crashed into each other seven miles off shore on 8 June 2014, with catastrophic damage to Orca causing her to sink shortly after.
Skipper Peter Ingram was rescued from the water but despite an extensive search, his wife Bernadine could not be found.
Her body was recovered from the sunken vessel the next day by a dive team.
A report into the tragic accident found that the chief officer was alone on the bridge of the ship when the crash happened, and Mr Ingram was below deck, emerging just before the incident happened.
Following an alteration of course by the chief officer on Shoreway, the Moody S31 entered a blind sector caused by the vessel’s bow-mounted rainbow discharge equipment and remained unseen by the chief officer until seconds before the collision.
Had either officer on Shoreway’s bridge checked to ensure that the course was clear of traffic, either visually or by radar, before changing direction, Orca would have been clearly visible to them.
Prior to the fatal crash, Orca’s skipper spotted the dredger approximately 1.6 miles away and judged there to be no risk of collision and decided to engage his autopilot and go briefly below.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch said: “When the skipper initially saw Shoreway in the deep water channel, no risk of collision existed and he incorrectly assumed the dredger would maintain its course and pass clear of his vessel.
“He then went down below to use the toilet, leaving nobody on watch. When Shoreway’s chief officer altered the dredger’s course to the south east to leave the deep water channel, Orca was approximately 1.6nm away and had not been seen.
“The chief officer used the autopilot to make two 5° alterations of course to starboard, putting Shoreway and Orca on near reciprocal headings and on a collision course, with a closing speed in excess of 17kts.”
During the impact, Orca was dismasted; the cockpit flooded as a result of the yacht being pushed astern and the starboard side of the vessel was punctured by Shoreway’s starboard anchor.
The impact rotated the yacht through 180 degrees and it then passed down Shoreway’s starboard side, sustaining damage to its port side.
Mr Ingram was washed inside the vessel as result of the crash and made his way to the emergency hatch at the forward end of the cabin to escape.
Sadly Mrs Ingram, who was out on deck at the time of the crash, was swept inside the yacht’s cabin and unable to escape as it foundered.
As a result of incident last year, Harwich Haven Authority has reminded all Pilot Exemption Certificate holders that two qualified watchkeepers should be on the bridge when navigating in the pilotage area, and reminded yacht owners of the importance of keeping a good lookout.
Boskalis Westminster Shipping B.V., the owner of Shoreway, has issued a safety message to its fleet emphasising the need to keep a good lookout, and has conducted an internal investigation.
While recommendations have also been made to Boskalis Westminster Shipping B.V. aimed at improving its vessels’ safety management systems and addressing a technical issue regarding the Shoreway’s voyage data recorder.