Car deck collapses on ferry sailing from Portsmouth

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FOUR people were taken to hospital after a car deck on a ferry sailing from Portsmouth collapsed last night.

The loaded upper car deck of the Wightlink St Helen car ferry part collapsed upon its arrival in Fishbourne at around 10.15pm.

The scene after the upper car deck of the ferry collapsed. Picture: Simon Thornton

The scene after the upper car deck of the ferry collapsed. Picture: Simon Thornton

Video and pictures by Shane Thornton

Paramedics, police, fire services and the coastguard were all called to the scene.

A spokesman for the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service confirmed four people were taken to St Mary’s Hospital, but none sustained life threatening injuries. All were conscious and breathing when they were taken from the scene.

‘It is very fortunate that it was only four people injured, all things considered,’ said the spokesman.

The four injured people were treated at the emergency department and then discharged.

The ferry was sailing from Gunwharf to Fishbourne with 181 passengers and 11 crew on board.

As passengers disembarked the forward mezzanine deck on the starboard side of the ferry, which had nine cars on it, collapsed on to the deck beneath it as it was being lowered.

Vehicles on the lower deck had already left the ferry.

Wightlink engineers carried out checks on its other ferries before returning them to service.

The firm issued a statement about the incident.

The statement read: ‘As part of the usual disembarkation process, after vehicles on the lower deck had left the ship, the starboard forward mezzanine deck with nine cars on board was lowered.

‘When it was a short distance from the deck below, it dropped a few feet and made contact with the lower deck.

‘One member of the crew and three passengers have been taken to St Mary’s Hospital by ambulance.

‘A member of Wightlink’s staff attended the hospital to aid and support customers.

‘A full investigation into the incident is underway. The incident has been reported to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Wightlink is fully co-operating with the authorities.

‘St Helen, in common with all Wightlink ferries, is inspected regularly by external surveyors. The last independent engineering survey of the ship, including its mezzanine decks, took place in May 2014 during her annual refit.’

This morning Wightlink has said there will be minor delays for people travelling from Portsmouth to Fishbourne between 10am and 2pm, and from Fishbourne to Portsmouth between 11am and 1pm.

The firm is advising people to check in as normal.

Sailings cancelled

Wightlink has cancelled a number of sailings.

They include the 2.30pm from Portsmouth and the 1.30pm and 3.30pm from Fishbourne today.

On Sunday, sailings from Portsmouth at 8.30am, 10.30am, 12.30pm, and 2.30pm are cancelled.

The 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm sailings from Fishbourne are also affected.

On Monday the 7.30am, 9.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm sailings from Portsmouth will not run.

Portsmouth-bound sailings from Fishbourne at 8.30am, 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm, and 6.30pm are also cancelled.

In a statement the firm said it is carrying out its own investigation and co-operating with ones run by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The statement said: ‘As well as conducting its own investigation, Wightlink will be cooperating fully with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency investigations.

‘While those investigations are underway, Wightlink will not be making further comment on the possible cause of the incident.’