Isle of Wight Ferry Accident at Southampton

10th March 2006, 17:59
BBC Radio reported this afternoon that a Red Funnel line ferry had collided with landing stage at Southampton causing whiplash injuries and damage to bow doors. There are a number of casualties caused by whiplash injuries. An ambulance is on board with a casualty inside and cannot currently be taken off due to bow door damage. I didn't catch the name of the ferry and it is not on the BBC website yet.


10th March 2006, 18:03
This was put on the BBC site just as I made the previous posting:

Nine hurt as ferry hits terminal

Nine people have been injured after an Isle of Wight ferry smashed into a car ramp as it was docking in Southampton.

An ambulance carrying an injured woman from the island is still on board the Red Falcon ferry, which crashed into the ramp at Red Funnel terminal.

One crew member and a member of the public, who is thought to have spinal injuries, are among the injured.

Getting the ambulance off is now "top priority", police said on Friday. The injured have been taken to hospital.

Ferry disruption

The ferry is due to dock again at gate four.

A Solent Coastguard spokesman said: "The ferry actually hit the Link Span when it was coming in which has caused some injuries to passengers."

The car ferry transports a range of vehicles and passengers, including trucks, coaches, motorbikes and cars.

The spokesman added the route from Cowes to Southampton "is one of the main links for people on the Isle of Wight to come into the mainland and vice versa".

Vehicles wanting to travel to the island have been diverted to the city's Leisure World complex on West Quay Road, which is being used as a holding area at this stage, police said.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: "There will be some considerable disruption to the ferry services from and to the island.

"There were a number of passengers onboard, fortunately there are very few injuries. "There are paramedics onboard and they are dealing with some of the injuries." She added attempts were being made to accommodate the passengers and control traffic.


10th March 2006, 18:08
Ferry name "Red Falcon" according to local coastguard spokesman on tv said " no danger of ferry sinking", just badly damaged bow doors/ramp.

10th March 2006, 18:40
Yes, it is Red Falcon. Nine people was injured. The patient in the ambulance was taken off. One passenger said that as she was coming in she kept going rather than slowing down crashing into the ramp at the Red Funnel terminal Southampton. One passenger and one crew member is thought to have spinal injuries. Local BBC TV has just said that passengers were thrown to the floor on the boat. Their words not mine?!. David

10th March 2006, 19:01
Latest news. 24 passengers are still on board. One crew member who was knocked unconscious is said to be okay. Safety experts are deciding whether it is safe to move her to another berth to disembark the remaining passengers according to BBC South. David

10th March 2006, 19:10
Am I just being thick but how can a vessel like that run full pelt into the link span if it is under proper control from the bridge? Or is that a stupid question?

Jeff Egan
10th March 2006, 19:13
Bridge control gear failure?

10th March 2006, 19:20
No doubt all that will come out in the enquiry now under way. I don't think she was going full pelt, but travelling at quite a speed according to passengers who spoke to the local BBC when they came off. The damage to her bow and people falling over injuring themselves suggests she was travelling pretty fast. David

10th March 2006, 19:22
Thanks Jeff, but surely the crew could have issued some sort of warning to the passengers. I would appear from reports she didn't make any attempt to slow down which would give the impression it happened well off the berth as he would have reduced speed on the approach. Perhaps not being a seaman I've the wrong end of the stick here but I would have thought the bridge would have at least some communication with the engine room.

Jeff Egan
10th March 2006, 19:27
I've never been on a IOW ferry but i know that if you are do the same job day after day you know exactly when to reduce speed, stop and come astern, to do the job as quickly as possible on a very handy ferry by the time you realise the bridge control is not working there is little you can do in the time left before you hit, but as Pompyfan says all will be revealed in an enquiry. Maybe the skipper was suddenly taken unwell.

10th March 2006, 19:31
I've never been on a IOW ferry but i know that if you are do the same job day after day you know exactly when to reduce speed, stop and come astern, to do the job as quickly as possible on a very handy ferry by the time you realise the bridge control is not working there is little you can do in the time left before you hit, but as Pompyfan says all will be revealed in an enquiry. Maybe the skipper was suddenly taken unwell.
Once again thanks Jeff for the words of wisdom, as Pompyfan says all will be revealed at the enquiry. These things are never simple are they?

fred henderson
10th March 2006, 19:47
I do not know the ship, but I would be pleasantly surprised if there was anyone in the engine room. It is all bridge control these days.


10th March 2006, 20:18
No doubt Moaf will bring us up to date on engine room and bridge crew when he comes on line even though he works for another company. Jeff is right, these ferries are doing the same job every day and know exactly when to slow down. I travel on them a lot, and they always seem to come in too quick, but always slow down, except this time. So it is easy to see how an accident can happen if there is a mechanical failure. Like Jeff said, there would be little you can do in the time left before you hit. These ferries are running to a timetable which I assume is why they leave it to the last minute to slow down. But an enquiry may make them slow down sooner giving the skipper time to take a defferent course of action if something goes wrong. David

10th March 2006, 22:42
An MCA press release says:-
Solent Coastguard are currently assisting other Agencies after the
Red Funnel ferry 'Red Falcon' suffered a collision with the link span at Southampton's Town Quay earlier this afternoon.

Coastguards have been dispatched to the scene and both passenger and crew injuries have been reported.

Two Surveyors from the Agency's Southampton Marine Office have also been sent to the scene after it was reported that the vessel's bow doors have been significantly damaged.

The top deck has been cleared and passengers are being disembarked.No water has been taken in.

Investigations are on going to determine if there are any vehicles on board which may be leaking petrol or chemicals into the water column, and the MCA are co-ordinating their activities with company personnel.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed.

10th March 2006, 23:36
Something that I believe should be taken into consideration,is that passangers and the media tend to form a very rapid opinion as to the cause of this type of accident. It will take a day or two to get an accurate opinion. Colin

11th March 2006, 01:53
Red funnel use a different prow arrangement than Wightlink, however, in my opinion, there are a couple of things that could have gone wrong. As Pompeyfan said, this is so familiar with the Captains, that I can't believe it was purely human error. The Red Funnel ships are similar to Wightlink C Class ships - whereby they have one engine either end. If the forward facing engine was to fail, through a problem - or, as is more likely in todays' winds, the old man pulling the sticks back too soon (thereby overspeeding the engine), the ship would not be able to effectively maneuvre into the 'jaws' of the linkspan.

The Red Funnel ships carry a Chief and Motorman ( I think ), same as Lymington. When I'm in Lymington, I am not engine room based, but the alarms ring in my cabin and the bridge - so I can always be in touch. When I have had an overspeed coming into Yarmouth, I have always managed to start the engine long before any problems could arise.

11th March 2006, 02:49
traveled on that ferry a few times. my guess would be some kind of control failure. last time i rode on her it was hard to tell we had docked as the captain is so used to it. be interesting to hear the findings on this one.

11th March 2006, 14:00
Bow ramps/doors pushed back so far that the ambulance just inside the doors is LIKELY to be a write off ACCORDING TO THE LOCAL EVENING NEWS

11th March 2006, 21:27
She is at the Windward Terminal according to Radio Solent, and all vehicles off. I have not heard that the ambulance was damaged, but you could see it through the bow doors. Ferries are now coming into 25 berth Eastern Docks I am told. David

12th March 2006, 10:13
There was an accout on the Yahoo Ferries of Northern Europe group by Matthew Punter who was onboard at the time:

Hi all,

On Friday, I travelled to the Solent in order to catch PONT L'ABBE's first weekend in service and thought I'd pass the time during the day with lunch in Cowes courtesy of Red Funnel. As (bad) luck would have it, I opted to return on the 1455 from Cowes which ended with the crash at Town Quay.

As the vessel rounded the end of Town Quay, all seemed to be in order but it simply failed to slow down and as we lined up with the berth, it was obvious there was going to be a fairly hefty impact.

The ship slammed into the linkspan with an almighty crash sending passengers flying forward and shunting cars forward also.

This was of course whilst almost all passengers were milling around and descending to the car decks. Not in any hurry, I remained seated overlooking the Southampton end and could prepare for the impact.

For a few seconds, the atmosphere was one of anger that the captain "had been such an idiot", as if this was like parking a car, but as people moved around and realised there were injuries, I think it dawned on people that this was more than a rough berthing. One woman was lying on the floor - and remained there whilst I was on the accommodation deck. I heard of one person being flung down the staircase and saw one guy who'd broken his fingers.

On the upper car deck, passengers had moved to the Southampton end to inspect the damage. The ship had shunted the linkspan, bursting the doors; the hook on the front of the ship had torn through the linkspan. Red Falcon must have bounced back slightly as the linkspan was clear of the vessel and the seaward end appeared to have collapsed into the water. There was also damage to the hull sides and the car deck floor but (later inspection from the shore) didn't appear to reveal any other damage to the hull.

Immediately afterwards, the crew rushed to respond to those passengers hurt or distressed but there was no announcement for about 5 minutes. The passenger ramp was able to connect to the ship and I think foot passengers were disembarked fairly soon afterwards - probably within 20 minutes. It then took them another 10 mins or so to connect the upper car deck but these passengers could then leave - contact details were taken for all car passengers as they disembarked.

The emergency services were on the scene within around 5-10 minutes although it seemed to take quite a while before any injured passengers were disembarked. Certainly over 2 hours later there were still 3 ambulances on the quayside and these were joined by a fire enging and half a dozen police vehicles. The MCA were also on the scene by this stage.

14th March 2006, 19:03
The master and mate of the Red Falcon have been suspended on full pay while inquiries are carried out. David

17th March 2006, 10:45
Update on Red Falcon. The local Island newspaper which comes out once a week has a full report on the accident. An earlier report saying the ambulance is a write off was wrong, but a van looks to be an insurance write off. The owner who suffered whiplash had just returned to the van and had not put his seat belt on when all of a sudden there was an almightly crash and the van catipulted forward underneath the lorry in front. He is self-employed and uses the van for removal and landscape gardening meaning he can't work at the moment.

Red Funnel are expecting up to 30 claims from people who were either injured or vehicles damaged. Services were reduced to 45 per cent with Red Eagle being recalled from refit to restore normal timetables, although docking still had to take place at Dock Gate 4, closer to Ocean Village.

Red Funnel said that only three or four of the 57 cars on board appeared to have been damaged. Red Funnel said it was standard procedure for the master and mate to be suspended pending the MAIB inquiry.

A spokesman for MAIB said it was investigating why the accident happened and it would be a few weeks before a full report was ready.

The Red Falcon is being repaired in Southampton and could be back in servive by the end of the month.

Red Funnel said that the linkspan was lifted out on Tuesday. Once the damage assessment had been made, they will know how long it will take before they can move it back.

Passengers given a full refund as a gesture of goodwill to those who were affected on board and concessionary crossings were offered as well on a case by case basis. But I reckon it will cost them a lot more over the weeks and months?!. David

17th March 2006, 10:57
it only takes a snapped cable or broken pin with most of these bridge controled ships ,seen a lovely Norwegian fishing boat slam into the quay because a 1"inch pin came out in the male/female type linkage

17th March 2006, 11:10
Whispers have it that the synchronizing between the fore and aft propellors failed. The bridge were aware of this but did not compensate for it. One prop went ahead, the other astern, thereby having no effect on the way of the ship. The Raptor vessel have electronic bridge controls. The Wightlink Lymington and Saint class boats have rods and linkages coupled from wheelhouse to prop - much less chance of failure!

3rd October 2006, 18:49
The Marine Accident Investigation Bureau has found that crew error lead to the Red Falcon to crash into the dockside ramp at Southampton.

The ferry was 5 minutes late, so the master desynchronised the propoulsion units driven by the engines to make up time, but had not informed the chief officer, who took over control of the ferry when docking. I am no expert on engines, but it seems that because the chief officer did not know the captain had desynchronised the engines he slowed down thinking that both engine would slow down while in truth one was at full pelt. Perhaps those better qualified can explain it better?.

Moaf was pretty close in his last post actually mentioning synchronising, and I said in post 13 that these ferries keep to timetables. So our early diagnosis was not far out?!. David

3rd October 2006, 22:34
One of the engines was being run at slightly reduced speed due to a problem. Therefore, because the engines were coupled through the controls, the good engine was also reduced. Aparrently, because they were slightly late, the old man de-synchronised the engines so as to run the good engine at full chat. Only he forgot.....

6th October 2006, 21:43
More news have emerged on this incident as reported in our local newspaper today.

The chief officer and master have resigned. The master had 40 years of experience at sea. It is so sad that his career and that of the chief officer has been tainted by this accident.

The MAIB investigation found changes had been made to the Red Falcon's running because of a fault on an air cooler.

It was decide the ship's aft engine would be run on reduced power until it was convenient to permanently repair the cooler.

This meant that instead of the usual synchronised running of the ship's two engines, they were de-synchronised to allow one engine to run at full power while the other ran at reduced power, although power was later increased because they were losing too much time.

At the time of the accident the chief officer, who was bringing the vessel into Southampton, was unaware they were de-synchronised and did not realise he needed to adjust the controls on both engines as he approached the Town Quay.

As the vessel approached Town Quay the chief officer began to reduce speed by adjusting the pitch setting on what he believed to be both the units. In fact he was only adjusting the pitch of the aft unit and failed to notice the forward unit was still operating at full speed.

An audible alarm that signalled when the engines were de-synchronised had been switched off earlier while a red light on the control panel had not been spotted according to the report.

The master who had been master of the Red Falcon for 20 months eventually realised why the vessel was not slowing down as expected, and his effort to resynchronise the engine came too late.

The investigation concluded the master may have forgotten the change to the engines because of a visit to the bridge of new catering staff.

The investigation also found that in daylight it was difficult to see the warning light and there was no speed information available on the console the chief officer had been using.

If the chief officer had realised that the vessel,s speed was not reducing in the normal way, it is possible the impact could have been prevented, the report said. David

7th October 2006, 03:33
Shame this chap had to resign in the circumstances. Why could the ferry not have been taken out of service to repair the fault instead of being cobbled?

Sounds like money was behind this as usual.