Read the MAIB report into the tragic sinking last summer in the English Channel
When three bodies were discovered floating south of the Isle of Wight on 22 and 23 August last year, a maritime tragedy unfolded that has stunned the sailing community in the UK. The arrest and subsequent charges against a Second Officer of thePride of Bilbao, a P&O ferry heading for Bilbao from Portsmouth, seemed to confirm everyone’s fears about the mysterious disappearance of the 25ft yacht,Ouzo.
Now, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published a full report into the disaster including these important findings:
1. ThePride of Bilbaoreacted to a close encounter with a yacht on 21 August but thought the yacht had passed clear astern and did not stop to ensure she was safe
2. At no time did the yacht show up on the ferry’s radar screens
3. The ferry reached a waypoint and slowly altered course towardsOuzo, without seeing her, only 4 to 7 minutes before the incident.
4. The lookout did not see the yacht’s lights until it was about 300m away
5. The lack of an EPIRB, liferaft or waterproof VHF aboardOuzomeant the crew in the water were less likely to survive
6. Had help been called, it’s likely at least one of the yachtsmen would have been rescued
The MAIB report pointed out important safety issues for yachtsmen:
* The efficacy of octahedral radar reflectors, and other types, is questioned. Yachtsmen should be encouraged to fit the best radar reflector they can afford. The MAIB is testing reflectors and will publish the results on 1 May.
* Crotch straps should be fitted to all lifejackets, and worn.
* Nav lights – several checks to ensure efficacy are highlighted.
* Carrying an EPIRB, liferaft, and hand-held VHF would have dramatically improved the crew’s survival chances
* Yachtsmen should not hesitate to attract the attention of ships’ watchkeepers by whatever means are available.
The report highlights several possible reasons why the lookout on the ferry did not see theOuzountil it was very close ahead, including:
* The lookout was wearing glasses with photochromic lenses which stopped at 20% of light.
* There was light pollution on the ship’s bridge due to poor blackout procedures.
* The lookout had only been on the bridge for 9 minutes and his eyes were still adapting to the dark.
To read Practical Boat Owner’s analysis, see our June issue, on sale 3 May