“Have been hearing reports of 60 to 80 kt winds in various locales on Med Coast this morning. Just got sent this by someone who was in zero [visibility] and 50+ kts for a couple of hours,” reads one post on YachtForums.com
Although appearing flimsy and almost toy-like against the backdrop of her 101m mothership, considerable damage is thought to have been done.
“The remains of that stormy weather look like a [single engine Eurocopter] EC 120B. The damage on that heli will most likely be a write off, if the rotor / engine assembly is affected,” said another commentator.
More serious is the fatal damage that could have been done, if anyone had been walking nearby on deck. Paul Donaghy, trainer at Helidecks Training Solutions, explained:
“If the aircraft flipped and someone was walking by the side of it, you’ve got a three tonne helicopter plus human, you know who is going to win.”
Donaghy said a lack of understanding about the importance of correct ‘tie-down’ procedures of helicopters to superyachts is common amongst crew and he said he was not surprised by the pictures:
“It’s lack of understanding and training. We teach tie-downs quite a lot when we go out on the yachts; it’s one of the fundamental issues of operating helis on board a vessel, because the vessel moves, you’ve got the wind and you’ve got to make sure it’s tied down correctly, depending on the sea state.
“What crew don’t understand is when the weather gets worse, they need to add more tie downs to aircraft to keep it safe on deck.”
Others have suggested the helicopter should have been flown ahead of the weather to a safe base, but Donaghy said that is not always feasible in reality:
“It could have been a very quick storm. They might have been caught unawares with a sudden squall.”
Attessa IV, built as Evergreen in Japan in 1999, relaunched in 2011 after a three-year-long refit, including the fitting of a new helipad. It was one of the most impressive yacht reconfigurations ever completed.
SuperyachtNews.com contacted her managers at Washington Yachting Group, but they did not wish to comment on the incident until further details were known.
Issue 64 of The Crew Report covers updates to helideck training for crew in 'Flying high'. Please click here to view the magazine.