Wightlink has been criticised for the maintenance of its ferries by an official report into the partial collapse of a deck.
A crewman and three passengers were injured in the incident on the ferry St Helen at the Fishbourne terminal on the Isle of Wight on July 18 last year.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch published its findings today and found weaknesses in the way Wightlink managed its vessels.
The mezzanine deck collapsed when its inboard steel wire ramping rope suddenly parted, according to the investigation report.
This caused the forward inboard corner of the suspended deck to drop from a height of about 2 metres and hit the main deck below.
The crewman was knocked unconscious from a head injury and three passengers, who suffered minor injuries while seated in their cars, were taken to hospital and released later.
The report said: “The investigation found weaknesses in the way that Wightlink had managed the day-to-day maintenance of its vessels and, in particular, their mezzanine decks. This was despite the mezzanine decks being subject to regular inspections and mandatory six-monthly thorough examinations.
“Wightlink was aware of many of the safety issues and contributing factors highlighted in this investigation report.”
The ferry company “demonstrated little or no appetite to allocate the resources necessary” to resolve a long-standing issue over steel wire lifting ropes on the moveable deck, the report said.
The chief inspector of Marine Accidents wrote to Wightlink the month after the incident and issued a recommendation to immediately instigate a mezzanine deck steel wire lifting rope maintenance programme, and seek independent assurance that the mezzanine decks on its vessels were of sound condition.
“Wightlink accepted the recommendation and has taken action to improve the material condition of its mezzanine decks and maintain them in accordance with accepted best practice,” the report added.
The MAIB report makes recommendations designed to improve the overall management of maintenance across the Wightlink fleet and “improving the levels of assurance provided by the statutory thorough examination of lifting equipment”.
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