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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:24 pm 
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Has anyone heard anything about an accident with the Cheung Chau ferry?

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 Post subject: Ferry accident
PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:01 am 
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Last night the Cheung Chau ferry collided in the fog with a barge, 30 injured!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:23 am 
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I just don't understand how this sort of thing can happen. I thought radar would show a barge clearly. I wonder how Hong Kong ferries fare in comparison to the safety record of ferries elsewhere in the world.
http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/arti ... llides-fog

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:07 pm 
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Was a story about this in the 'City' Section of the SCMP today.

Apparently the ferry hit a barge. Imact was pretty strong apparently and upperdeck passengers int he front rows where thrown down the staris. Some passengers criically injured.

Witness accounts from the ferry were that the fog was so thick, passengers had no idea where they were bascially.

I have taken ferry rides like this, and they are pretty freaky and weird. Can't see a damn thing. Visibility is around 2 metres.

But what about RADAR???!! GPS?? And other technology?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:03 am 
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Tigger wrote:
Was a story about this in the 'City' Section of the SCMP today.

Apparently the ferry hit a barge. Imact was pretty strong apparently and upperdeck passengers int he front rows where thrown down the staris. Some passengers criically injured.

Witness accounts from the ferry were that the fog was so thick, passengers had no idea where they were bascially.

I have taken ferry rides like this, and they are pretty freaky and weird. Can't see a damn thing. Visibility is around 2 metres.

But what about RADAR???!! GPS?? And other technology?


The problem isn't lack of electronics, or means to avoid collision.

The law (Hong Kong is a signatory of an international treaty that covers this) says that you will proceed at a speed according to conditions of visibility, traffic and other conditions that will allow you to avoid collision.

#1 So when it is foggy, you SLOW DOWN. If it very foggy you SLOW DOWN A LOT! If it foggy, with lots of traffic in every direction you SLOW DOWN EVEN MORE!!

#2 You must maint and adequate lookout by ALL AVAILABLE MEANS. This means radio, radar, AIS, and NEVER FORGET VISUAL, in addition to a sound lookout. Yes, you must LISTEN for other vessels in conditions of very limited visibility. Listen for horns (you are supposed to make 1 long blast every few minutes when traveling in the fog - NEVER happens here)

#3 You must also take "early and obvious action" to avoid collision This is not a highway intersection. There is no stop sign you can claim the other guy ran.

When there is a collision, these 3 items are ALWAYS the primary cause. You will be hard pressed to find any marine collision that does not cite these 3 as the cause.

The cause of the Lamma tragedy, the cause of this last accident, and the cause of all the marine department accident reports I could find cited these reasons as the cause of the accident.

In Hong Kong it is not normal to slow down, watch the radar closely, and change course early and drastically to avoid collision. They rarely slow down, when they do it is never enough. They challenge each other for the right of way, right up till the last 15-50 meters at full speed. And they only use the radar when they feel like it, apparently. By my observation they violate all three rules an a daily basis.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:48 am 
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But that is not why these accidents continue to happen in Hong Kong.

Ferries in HK have collisions with other vessels almost 2x per week, per Marine Department reports. There are many more collisions inside Typhoon shelters with docks.

BC (Canada, eh) has the worlds second largest ferry fleet based on total passenger capacity - 27,000+ passengers and crew. BC Ferries even carry TRAINS.

Washington State is third largest by capacity, and worlds largest by total vehicle trips annually. Over 11 Million vehicles per year travel on WA ferries.

I could find only 5 or 6 vessel to vessel collisions each for BC or WA from 1970 - current. I am sure there have been more, but they are very very uncommon. These ferries are HUGE compared to HK and the results would be 100's-1000+ dead if they were to collide at speed in that cold water.

The great majority of accidents in BC and WA happen at the dock and are most often a result of loss of power or control of the vessel due to mechanical reasons. Even these accidents happen only a few times per year. The accident in NY that injured several passengers around the time of the Lamma Tragedy was of this type

I found only 1 accident in WA between 2 ferries. One "suffered a deep, 10-foot-long scrape" Yes a scrape. The accident happened in a narrow channel in heavy fog. The bump was barely felt by the crew and passenger and no injuries occurred. This was because they were watching, carefully, and reducing speed well before the collision.

In HK the accidents happen full speed or the boat is put in full reverse very shortly before the collision. The fast ferries from Macau will reduce speed from 37Kts to 28+ kts when fog is very thick - that is such a minor reduction in speed as to be nearly pointless. The Lamma-Central/ Aberdeen ferries routinely travel at full speed in the fog and only reduce speed by very minor bits (I have a pocket GPS and have checked many times). That this is common for all the ferries in HK is confirmed by MARDEP accident reports.

In WA and BC the captains and crews records are often immediately made public by the press. Crews are routinely disciplined internally, fired, or held criminally negligent for accidents. Even accidents involving hitting the dock where no injuries are involved.

Here in HK the MARDEP publishes a notice which the "Vessel operator is encouraged to distribute to all captains and coxains." The report says the accident was caused by the above 3 reasons, and maybe 1 or 2 more contributory factors, and tells them not to do that any more. After an accident like the Lamma tragedy they even distribute this notice to all registered vessels. Oh..... wow...

After that nothing usually happens. I believe this is the ultimate reason the accidents happen at such a high rate here. There is just no standard of personal responsibility.

Why make your boat be late and have passengers or your boss complain when there are no real consequences for your reckless operation of the vessel?

I am afraid that charging the two captains from the Lamma tragedy is only a face saving move for the Gov't, so the public won't think they are doing nothing.

Unless and until they begin to hold the operators personally responsible for ALL ACCIDENTS on a consistent basis, then they are doing nothing. And for that reason I feel the Marine Department of Hong Kong should also be charged along side with the captains.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:12 pm 
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PNWxplant wrote:
Unless and until they begin to hold the operators personally responsible for ALL ACCIDENTS on a consistent basis, then they are doing nothing. And for that reason I feel the Marine Department of Hong Kong should also be charged along side with the captains.


Agree with that.

The shipyard should also be held responsible. They were selling boats, and not building to plans/specifications and safety.

And then along comes the Marine Department and signs all the licenses allowing ferries to carry passengers, without checking plans, and watertight doors, etc. Didn't check safety issues.

Unbelievable really.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:27 pm 
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PNWxplant wrote:
#2 You must maint and adequate lookout by ALL AVAILABLE MEANS. This means radio, radar, AIS, and NEVER FORGET VISUAL, in addition to a sound lookout. Yes, you must LISTEN for other vessels in conditions of very limited visibility. Listen for horns (you are supposed to make 1 long blast every few minutes when traveling in the fog - NEVER happens here)


I certainly hear foghorns when there is thick fog.

But yes, don't recall ferries using them when on one in fog.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:45 pm 
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I used to live in Cheung Chau many years ago, and sometimes in spring the fog (out at sea) was much thicker than anything I've ever encountered on Lamma.

And it was spooky, just a blanket of white in front of you, and the sounds of very VERY close 'foghorns'./ships I also used to hear the ferry I was travelling on sound the fog horn. I was happy to know as a passenger that ferries were paying attention, but still unnerving.

I have never heard a Lamma ferry sound the foghorn in fog. But then again, I've never been in such thick fog like that on this island. I'm not sure if 'coxwains' are supposed to 'sound an alarm' by international maritime law, but I'd like to know.

After all that I have read on these forums and in the news since the tragedy,.. I won't be getting on a 'dinky small ferry' any time soon in fog or rainstorms or typhoons. Catamaran OK..... smelly bouncy bucket - no.

PNX can you advise re fog maritime laws, as I know you know ? :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:06 pm 
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There are aids to navigation, or "buoys" that sound fog signals. I have been aboard several times in heavy fog, and have not heard any vessels sounding their horns.

We had a VERY close call in early March approaching the entrance to Aberdeen in heavy fog.From full speed to full reverse and <20 M. Our boat sounded NO signals during our crossing of East Lamma Channel. Waglan Island weather station reported down to 100M visibility that morning.

Rule #35 A power-driven vessel making way through the water shall sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes one prolonged blast. A prolonged blast is 4-6 seconds.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:12 pm 
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And to address Tavis's question about how does HK compare to other busy ferry fleets;

I found a WA state ferry risk assessment report which says - "Due to the infrequent occurrence of such accidents, large accident databases are not available for a standard statistical analysis."

The Honk Kong risk assessment report (available at the MARDEP website) has DETAILED statistical analysis. Almost 100 collisions outside of typhoon shelters for ferries every year here. Plenty of statistics to work with.

Although there are some differences in the characteristics of travel between the two. It does show the huge gulf of difference in accident rates.


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