Wightlink criticised by investigators for poor safety record which led to deck collapse

Emergency services at the scene after the car deck collapses on a ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight  Picture: Shane Thornton

Emergency services at the scene after the car deck collapses on a ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight Picture: Shane Thornton

Aaron Prior, 15, and his mum Sam Picture: Sarah Standing (170834-4170)

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A DAMNING report has called on car ferry operator Wightlink to improve its safety after the mezzanine deck on one of its ships collapsed, injuring passengers and crew.

A review published today by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) revealed how the now-retired St Helen car ferry had been allowed to deteriorate to a ‘dangerously unsafe’ level.

One crewman was knocked unconscious and three passengers were injured when the deck, carrying 11 vehicles, dropped two metres while it was being lowered at Wightlink’s Fisbourne terminal, on July 18, 2014.

In the MAIB’s 64-page study, investigators said the steel wire lifting rope had snapped after suffering excessive wear, caused by a lack of lubrication.

The report said Wightlink had not maintained St Helen’s mezzanine deck effectively and the rope’s poor state had contributed to it failing.

The MAIB added the accident would not have happened if Wighlink had followed its own safety policy and replaced the rope earlier.

Wightlink was aware of safety issues but had ‘demonstrated little or no appetite’ to resolve them, the report said.

Other areas highlighted by MAIB included the poor standard of previous repairs to one of the decks structual beams, which failed on impact and a substantial number of defects on the mezzanine deck.

Since the accident, Wightlink has improved maintenance and introduced a 30-month maximum wire rope replacement plan.

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