French investigation reveals inattention

BEAmer, France’s Marine Accident Investigation Bureau, has published its report into the collision on 28 March this year between the fast catamaran Condor Vitesse and a French fishing vessel, Les Marquises, in which the latter’s skipper died (see PBO story French fisherman killed in collision with Condor ferry).

BEAmer’s investigation was required due to the involvement of a French-registered vessel. While the report makes plain that it does not determine criminal responsibility, it makes recommendations for improved safety based on its findings.

It reveals that the ferry, routinely crossing from St Malo to Jersey, was going at speed in fog and the crew were involved in a conversation about a movie, and missed the radar blip of Les Marquises.

The report’s summary states: ‘Condor Vitesse sailed from Saint-Malo in thick fog conditions; the fog horn had been inactivated very early and the visual lookout had not been strengthened. The speed had progressively reached 37 knots.

‘In the wheelhouse almost continuous talks, without any link with the watchkeeping, maintained an atmosphere not compatible with the necessary concentration to conduct a HSC (high speed Condor vessel) in the fog.

‘This behavior, as well as the visibility are the causal factors of the accident.

‘When Condor Vitesse approached the Minquiers waters, both officers did not detect two vessel echoes ahead on starboard, the first was a ship that would be passing at a hundred of meters on starboard, the second was Les Marquises.

‘The potter was fishing, with her radar on, without emitting any sound signals. A hand saw the HSC at the last moment but too late to alert the skipper. The collision cut the fishing vessel in two parts.’

The full report can be read at

Condor Ferries today released a statement of response, in which their Managing Director, Simon Edsall, sympathised with the family of Phillipe Le Saulnier, the man who died.

The statement reads: ‘Whilst BEAmer published their report yesterday, there are still other marine and judicial investigations into the incident last March and we are mindful that it would be highly inappropriate to make any comment that might affect these.

‘We also wish to respect the rights of others involved in those enquiries including the crew of Les Marquises and the crew onboard Condor Vitesse at the time of the incident.

‘The Master and Chief Officer onboard Condor Vitesse on that day were relieved of their operational duties immediately after the incident.

‘As stated in the report, Condor Ferries has cooperated with BEAmer during the preparation of their report and continues to cooperate with all ongoing inquiries.’

Image: Condor Vitesse, Wikimedia Commons