Wrong Turn, Lack of Awareness Leads to Ferry Accident
According to Professional Mariner, while an inexperienced second mate was steering a ferry, a wrong turn led to a collision with a yacht. The accident happened at about 1:38 p.m. on September 13, 2013 near the intersection of the Harney and Upright channels in the San Juan Islands.[ubermenu-map address=”Harney Channel, Eastsound, WA” zoom=”14″ width=”375px” height=”375px”]
As the 382-foot ferry was making the trek between Lopez Island and Orcas Island, it came upon a 29-foot yacht. In an effort to avoid a close-quarters situation as it passed the pleasure boat, the captain of the ferry directed the second mate, who was training at the time, to come to port, but instead he came to starboard. Within four seconds of the wrong turn, the captain took the wheel and attempted to avoid slamming into the yacht. However, she was too late to prevent the collision.
There was only one person aboard the yacht at the time of the wreck. The yacht’s hull was breached when the ferry crashed into it and immediately began taking on water. A nearby vessel rescued the lone occupant of the yacht, which sank later that day as it was being towed to shore.
“The Board of Inquiry determined that the root cause of this incident was human error due to lack of situational awareness,” stated a report issued by Washington State Ferries. “Specifically, the captain’s lack of situational awareness in combination with the second mate’s inexperience at the helm of the [ferry] resulted in an in-extremis situation and eventual collision.”
Following the incident, both the captain and second mate were placed on paid leave until a final decision on their job status could be determined.
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