The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report into the collapse of a mezzanine deck on board the roll-on roll-off passenger ferry St Helen citing a long-standing maintenance failure by shipowner Wightlink. The accident occurred at Fishbourne Ferry Terminal on the Isle of Wight in July 2014. The passengers and vehicles on board the 77-meter (250-foot) cross-Solent roll-on roll-off passenger ferry were in the process of disembarking at Fishbourne ferry terminal on the Isle of Wight when the vessel’s starboard forward mezzanine deck collapsed.
The collapse occurred because one of the deck’s steel wire lifting ropes parted as it and the deck had not been routinely lubricated. The parting wire caused the forward inboard corner of the suspended deck to drop from a height of about two meters (six feet) and hit the main deck below.
A crewman and 11 cars, with their seated passengers, were on the deck at the time. The crewman suffered a minor head injury and was temporarily rendered unconscious; several passengers suffered minor impact related injuries. The force of the impact caused the failure of one of the mezzanine deck’s main structural beams.
Post-accident analysis of the failed wire rope found that it had suffered a significant amount of mechanical wear. The mechanical wear, which had primarily been attributed to internal and external abrasion caused by a lack of lubrication, had severely diminished the strength of the rope.
The investigation found weaknesses in the way that Wightlink had managed the day-to-day maintenance of its vessels and, in particular, their mezzanine decks.
The MAIB investigation report is available here: