Nearly a year on from the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki in the Atlantic with the loss of her four crew, the MAIB has published its report into this distressing matter. The incident, which received massive UK media coverage at the time, sent shockwaves through the marine and yachting world.
Despite an extensive search that found the upturned hull of the Cheeki Rafiki, the four crew remain missing. The hull was not recovered and is assumed to have sunk. In the absence of survivors and material evidence, the causes of the accident remain a matter of some speculation. However, it is concluded that the Cheeki Rafiki capsized and inverted following a detachment of its keel.
The key safety issues identified in the Cheeki Rafiki report were:
• Where bonding is used to secure a matrix of stiffeners into a hull, it is possible for that bond to break down leading to weakening of the overall structure. Importantly, break down of the bond can be difficult to detect.
• A ‘light’ grounding can still cause significant undetected damage to the matrix bonding.
• Regular inspection of the hull and internal structure should help to provide early warning of possible keel detachment.
• Ocean passage contingency planning and careful routing can significantly reduce the risks of weather-related damage occurring.
• When flooding is detected, all possible sources of water ingress should be checked, including the area the keel is attached to the hull.
• An ability to send an alert and to abandon to a life-raft is essential in the event of capsize and inversion.
The Cheeki Rafiki report can be read in full in this downloadable pdf.