A new MAIB report into the Loch Lomond ferry sinking concludes the vessel "was in poor condition"
The passenger ferry that sank in Loch Lomond last September has been condemned by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch as being in “poor condition” when the incident occurred, according to a report by the BBC.
The new MAIB report highlights a number of crucial safety failures that may have contributed to the sinking of the 6.5 metre, steel-hulled Vixen, which sank as it crossed the loch close to Ardlui Marina.
It found the weed hatch – a cover that allows access to the propeller for maintenance reasons – to have corroded, allowing seawater to flood in.
Furthermore, the bilge alarm had been disabled and therefore failed to warn the skipper that the boat was sinking.
The investigation discovered a number of lifejackets were inaccessible during the emergency and none met the required minimum buoyancy.
Crucially the report uncovered a lack of effective oversight of small commercial vessels in the Loch Lomond area.
The report said: “The Vixen was in poor condition. The weed hatch was not watertight and was too close to the waterline – the boat was therefore overloaded.”
Five out of the six passengers were forced to put on lifejackets and jump into the water when the boat came into difficulty.
Some of the passengers were able to swim the 50-metres to the shore, while the rest were rescued by a member of the public in a nearby boat.
A female passenger, described as a weak swimmer, remained onboard with the skipper as the boat slowly submerged. The pair were eventually dragged underwater as the ferry sank although they managed to kick their way to the surface.
None of the passengers sustained any serious injuries as a result of the event.
Operators of the ferry service had previously come under fire from the Marine and Coastguard Agency when their skippers were found not to have the correct qualifications.
The MAIB have confirmed that ferry operators of the Vixen have purchased a replacement vessel and are in the process of retraining their skippers.
Further, it has been recommended that Transport for Scotland encourage the MCA and local authorities to work together in safeguarding passengers by improving safety and introducing boat hire licensing systems.
Image from wikipedia