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Dun Laoghaire Ferry Incident Leads to Investigations

22nd April 2010
Dun Laoghaire Ferry Incident Leads to Investigations

Two early season sailing events in Dun Laoghaire are under investigation this week after sailing boats crossed the path of the Stena 'Sea Lynx' car ferry last Saturday morning. The ferry, arriving from Holyhead in Wales, was forced to stop and sound the ships whistle as a warning to various dinghies in the harbour fairway.

The 260-foot long ferry halted its docking routine as a precaution until the fairway was cleared.

All large power craft such as the ferry and Naval vessels have priority over small craft in the harbour fairways and its approaches, according to harbour bye-laws.

At one point the dinghies were in such close proximity to the Ferry, the Sea Lynx Captain was able to talk directly to a junior sailor from the bridge of the ship.

A Team Racing Championship was underway in the harbour as the ship's whistle sounded.

One sailing manager told that waterfront yacht clubs have launched their own investigation into the incident but another sailor said the incident was being 'blown out of proportion'.

An informed harbour sailing source who witnessed the incident last Saturday morning said: "This new Sea Lynx ferry was only introduced to the harbour this month and it manoeuvres in a different way to the route of the much bigger HSS ferry. Sailors were unfamiliar the turn of the Sea Lynx so this might be part of the problem."

The same source, who did not wished to be named, also made the point that the incident was "only an inconvenience to the ship. Safety was never in question. There was no risk of a collision."

Conditions governing safe and adequate clearance of the ferry are set out in a Notice to Mariners issued by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company. The full notice is set out below.

Penalties come under the Maritime Safety Act 2005 and may carry a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 'dangerous navigation'.

No. 5 (2010)


Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company
Harbour Lodge, Crofton Road
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Date: I January 2010

All large, power-driven vessels (Ferries, CIL, Naval, etc) have priority over small craft in the harbour fairways and its approaches. The harbour area extends 600 metres beyond the pier-heads, into Dublin Bay.

There have been experiences of small craft placing themselves, unwittingly, into very dangerous situations after initially keeping clear of the large High Speed Ship (HSS) catamaran ferry - these brought about by not fully appreciating its berthing manoeuvres, operational requirements and propelling forces, namely:-

1. The HSS enters the harbour bow first, stops, then swings to either port or starboard (off St.Michael’s Pier) and then goes astern into its berth

2. The ship is made fast by to the shore ONLY by a system of mechanical and hydraulic locks at its stern. The final locking on is made at almost zero speed, in a fore-and-line. At the last instant the vessel may have to abandon its approach, go ahead (to clear the berth) and make a fresh stern approach

3. In addition to its wake there is also the possibility of side turbulence from its bow thrusters OR deflection of its propulsion power from harbour walls or piers

Craft which cut around the HSS as it swings; across its bow or stern as it goes astern; Craft that closely cut across the track of the large power-driven vessel, are besides obstructing the vessels, endangering their own safety

Attention is drawn to the “Maritime Safety Act, 2005” whereby the contravention of its Section No. 23 attracts heavy fines and /or terms of imprisonment for, “Dangerous navigation or operation of vessels”

Keeping a good lookout, taking avoiding action in good and sufficient time, and remaining safely out of the way for the vessel’s transit is the best way to avoid a close quarter situation.

By Order
Simon Coate
Harbour Master

The ferry timetable (courtesy of DLHC) is published here

Published in News Update Team

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