“As the yacht moved through the bridge structure, the assistant engineer walked the fender aft until he reached the fashion plate,” the report details. “He leaned over the side and positioned the fender between the upper sponson rail and the bridge structure. He was distracted by what he was doing and did not notice that Calliope was closing on one of the bridge mounted fenders which was going to pass very close to where he was working.
According to the crew, the use of the mobile telephone, rather than the VHF radio, was a conscious decision that was made to avoid disturbing and upsetting the owner, his guests and others who were present on the bridge when the emergency occurred. “This is not the first investigation the ATSB has conducted where the use of a mobile telephone rather than the recognised marine emergency radio system has been noted,” the report reveals. “The ATSB advises that the recognised marine distress systems should be the primary means of reporting emergencies.”
The ATSB also found that a passage plan for the voyage had not been completed and, therefore, the risks associated with the voyage were not appropriately assessed or communicated to the crew. It was also determined that, by operating the vessel from a remote control pendant from the port wing station, the captain could not reference navigational aids to monitor the yacht’s position as it transited the bridge. “Hence, he was not in a position to properly monitor the yacht’s progress,” the report noted.
Prior to the departure, the master calculated the tidal conditions for the intended transit through the bridge, but he did not consider the impact of daylight savings time. This resulted in an erroneous belief that the tide was just beginning to flood when it was actually just finishing the ebb. As a result, “the manoeuvre had not been planned and the tidal conditions were incorrectly calculated,” the report states.
Calliope’s management company has told the ATSB that the vessel’s SMS procedures have been updated to require the completion of a passage plan for all voyages, and that procedures for transiting bridge openings will also be issued.
To read the full ATSB report, please click here.