The master of NorthLink ferry Hrossey miscalculated the turn into Kirkwall Bay immediately prior to the recent near-miss incident with the coastguard tug Herakles.
That is according to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in a response to MSP Tavish Scott’s repeated calls for an investigation into the “hazardous incident”, which occurred on 3rd July.
A letter to Mr Scott from the MCA’s acting director of safety and standards, Chris Thomas, appears to lay blame for the episode at the door of the ferry’s captain.
In response, Serco has reiterated its previous stance that no further action is needed.
After the incident the MCA was concerned enough to send a marine surveyor to Orkney to speak to the crews of the Hrossey and the Herakles – as well as the harbour master – to gain more information on what happened. Passengers had reported drinks flying off tables and passengers falling against walls.
“The evidence indicates that the master of the Hrossey miscalculated the turn into the bay and this was the cause of the ferry coming close to the tug,” said Mr Thomas.
In his letter, Mr Thomas also said the Herakles was anchored at one of two anchoring positions it uses within Kirkwall Harbour.
Mr Thomas, who was writing on behalf of the MCA’s chief executive, Sir Alan Massey, was responding after Mr Scott had forwarded screen grab images taken from the Orkney harbour authority’s Vessel Tracking System.
Mr Thomas said he noted the MSP had been in correspondence with the harbour master, who had decided no further action was required.
“This matter is now being considered by the company operating the ferry.”
In a statement released by OIC yesterday, spokeswoman Kirsty Groundwater, said the harbour authority had gathered information and concluded that “that no further action by the harbour authority is required.”
However, Mr Scott says answers are badly needed.
“Everyone in the northern isles who depends on our lifeline services deserves an explanation. We are being denied this by the agencies and shipping company who are all saying this is for someone else to investigate.
“I am dismayed that none of these bodies, including the shipping company, seem to recognise that being transparent and open with the travelling public would be the right thing to do.”
Serco’s managing director, Stuart Garrett, said: “MV Hrossey approached Hatston Pier in thick fog on Friday 3rd July 2015 and manoeuvred to ensure safe passing distance from an anchored vessel, causing the vessel to list more than normal. All the correct procedures for operating in restricted visibility were followed.
“Following consultation of the incident which was reported by third parties, we can confirm that no further investigation or action is required.”
FULL STORY IN THIS WEEK’S SHETLAND TIMES.