Cape Town: 27 November 2017
An apparent lack of awareness of weather conditions by the skipper of Thandi at Robben Island in September 2017, led to the tourists ferry getting into trouble after taking in water that eventually shut down its engines during a stormy afternoon; an investigation by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has concluded.
SAMSA in a statement issued on Monday (see below) said that at the time of the incident on 15 September 2017, the ferry had 65 occupants on board – mostly tourists – and all of whom were safely evacuated after the crew of the vessel issued a distress call.
According to SAMSA chief operations officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, a preliminary report following an investigation into the incident, found that the accident was due to the skipper of the ferry having been unaware of prevailing weather conditions on the day.
“Before the boat departed, neither the appropriate forecasted weather nor the prevailing weather conditions were taken into account,” the SAMSA statement said.
Mr Tilayi said: “Now that the report has been completed, we will continue with remedial steps to avert a similar crisis. ”
Below is the full SAMSA statement:
SAMSA completes Thandi accident
Cape Town, South Africa: November 27, 2017: The South African Maritime Safety Authority has completed a preliminary enquiry on the passenger vessel Thandi which encountered bad weather on its way to Robben Island two months ago.
On the afternoon of the 15th September 2017, Thandi, an under 25GT small passenger vessel departed Murray Harbour for the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V & A Waterfront. The vessel was carrying 65 Passengers and five crew.
Shortly after departure to Robben Island, the vessel started taking on water. The skipper issued a distress call which was received by Port Control. The National Sea Rescue Institute were activated and responded with a number of rescue vessels.
All crew and passengers were disembarked from the Thandi and returned to Nelson Mandela Gateway on the Class VI passenger vessel Madiba 1 or on the NSRI vessel Rescue 3. No one was injured.
SAMSA Chief Operating Officer Sobantu Tilayi confirmed the preliminary report found the accident was due to the skipper being unaware of prevailing weather conditions on the day. Before the boat departed, neither the appropriate forecasted weather nor the prevailing weather conditions were taken into account.
The vessel was overcome by the rough sea conditions prevalent on the day of the incident.
“Now that the report has been completed, we will continue with remedial steps to avert a similar crisis,” said Tilayi. He confirmed the owners of the vessel have indicated that the boat would be repaired.
The preliminary investigation has determined that a possible sequence of events may be as follows:
- Vessel was moving into rough weather when leaving Robben Island – strong wind and high seas/ swell from slightly to port.
- There was a significant amount of water washing onto the bow of the vessel, likely more on the port side.
- Water could have leaked into the chain locker space at a faster rate than could drain out.
- Water washing up against the accommodation specifically on the port side may have leaked into the front below deck compartment.
- It appears water may have entered the port engine compartment space via the electrical cable ducting running from the port chain locker.
- Water may have entered the engine compartment through the engine room vent.
- The port engine compartment bilge alarm was triggered.
- The skipper stopped the port engine and then could not restart it.
- As the vessels list increased to port and trimmed further by the head, the front windows, port and starboard were broken by waves coming over the bow.
- The water washing in through the front windows added to the water on the port side, forward.
- With the vessel being bow down and a port list the flow of water into the chain locker and the forward port watertight compartment would have increased.