At 0811 on 21 October 2018, when navigating in severely reduced visibility in Cowes Harbour, the master of the ro-ro passenger ferry Red Falcon lost orientation when his vessel swung out of control, departed the navigable channel and was spun around through 220°. In his confusion the master drove the ferry in the wrong direction resulting in a collision with the moored yacht Greylag which was sunk on its mooring as a result.
the master became fixated upon the information displayed on his electronic chart and operating engine controls, ignored information displayed on other electronic equipment, and became cognitively overloaded due to high stress the bridge team became disengaged from the operation due to a lack of clear communications and emergency scenario training
the hazard to people sleeping on yachts in Cowes Harbour had not been sufficiently mitigated within risk assessments
Red Funnel has been recommended (2020/110 and 2020/111) to conduct regular assessment of ship-handling capabilities including pilotage by instruments alone, and to review the shipboard method of determining orientation displayed on the ship’s electronic charting system.
The Cowes Harbour Commission and the Cowes Yacht Haven have been recommended (2020/112 and 2020/113 respectively) to review their risk assessments for collision between a commercial vessel and raft of yachts moored at their marinas detailing mitigating measures that are within their control to implement.
Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
“Our investigation highlighted how quickly restricted visibility can negatively affect individuals’ awareness and orientation, which increases their stress and impacts on decision making. Crews on vessels of any size can be affected, but the consequences can be mitigated by prior preparation and training, effective teamwork, and a full understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the available instrumentation.
“As a result of our investigation, Red Funnel has introduced measures to address many of the shortcomings identified in the report, but two recommendations have been made to the company aimed at further improving their operational practices.
“It was very fortunate that nobody was on board yacht Greylag when it was struck and overrun by Red Falcon. In this respect, the family on a yacht on a nearby swinging mooring had a lucky escape. When Red Falcon swung around it narrowly missed Cowes Yacht Haven marina wall, and had yachts been rafted there the consequences of this accident could also have been much more severe. Our investigation has highlighted that commercial vessels can pose a danger to people sleeping on yachts in some areas of Cowes Harbour, and recommendations have been made to Cowes Harbour Commissioners and Cowes Yacht Haven to review their risk assessments.”
Read the full report: RedFalconGreylag-Accident-Report
Read the annexes: RedFalconGreylag_Annexes