The Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands published a report of the investigation into the accident resulting in one fatality during the launching of a personal water craft (PWC) on board the 53m motoryacht Vinydrea. On 04 July 2010, the yacht was on charter in the South of France with 12 passengers on board. The accident occurred during the launching of the yacht’s PWC for the use of the guests on board.

Motoryacht Vinydrea. Image courtesy of the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands.

"As part of the launching routine," the investigation reports, "the first PWC was lowered to the main deck level on the starboard side of Vinydrea. With the PWC at main deck level, a crewmember boarded the PWC with the intention of riding it to sea level and then bringing it to the stern of the yacht. At this time the PWC was suspended approximately two metres above the sea."

"When the lowering of the PWC re-commenced," the report continues, "the lifting harness failed and both the PWC and the crewmember fell into the sea. The PWC landed on its side and righted itself and the crewmember landed on top of the PWC and fell into the water." The crewmember remained conscious but it was apparent that he was in severe pain. After being retrieved from the water, he was transferred to a local hospital for treatment but on 23 July 2010, the crewmember died from internal injuries received during the accident.

Although SMS procedures required the unmanned launching of PWC, with boarding only after the PWC was waterborne, it had become standard practice on board to 'ride' the first launched PWC from main deck level to the water.

The investigation into the accident later found that a combination of a failure to follow operational procedures, a lack of on board maintenance and inspection and a failure to act on identified deficiencies in maintenance all contributed to this accident. "Although SMS procedures required the unmanned launching of PWC, with boarding only after the PWC was waterborne," the report reveals, "it had become standard practice on board to 'ride' the first launched PWC from main deck level to the water."

It was not possible for the report to cite a single event or action as the cause of the accident, but rather a sequence of events and circumstances ultimately led to the accident occurring and the severity of its consequences. The report concludes the investigation with a set of safety lessons that can be taken away from the accident and utilised by other superyacht crew.

"The failure of the master to implement procedure DP3 (jet ski launching) on board Vinydrea was the primary cause of the deckhand losing his life in this accident." The report continues that, "the use of non-approved or tested lifting harnesses, coupled with an ineffective inspection and maintenance regime contributed significantly to the failure of the lifting harness, thus causing the accident to occur. The level of compliance with the ISM Code requirements on board Vinydrea had fallen below that required by both Edmiston Yacht Management and the ISM Code itself."

It is essential that lessons such as these are published in the industry so that similar accidents can be prevented in the future. Superyacht crew must develop a safety culture where information can be shared and incidents can be used to improve the industry. The full report of the accident can be read here.

If you've found this story to be 'a report worth reading', and you would like to enjoy access to even more articles, insight and information from The Superyacht Group, then you may well be interested in our VIP print subscription offer. We are inviting industry VIPs to register for a complimentary subscription to our print portfolio, which includes the most insightful information on the state of the superyacht market. To see if you qualify for our VIP subscription package, please click here to fill in an application form