Incident reporting, CHIRP and an engine room fire aboard ro-pax PRIDE OF CANTERBURY

The three headings are only thinly related, but I did give an undertaking to keep these posts to a minimum.

We receive a lot of feedback from readers to our circulars, both from our managed boats as well as from Captains and other managers who subscribe to our address list. Despite the superyacht sector having no effective central safety reporting body, we do have an amazingly talented and knowledgeable workforce with sound professional opinions and views based on irreplaceable experiences, but extremely hampered without a central resource. I was at a tanker industry meeting a few weeks ago when a fleet manager recounted a tragic story of an agent's launch sinking in calm weather. The incident unfolded so slowly that it was almost comical to watch. Lifejacket-wearing crew and passengers slipped harmlessly into warm still water, it was even reported that laughter could be heard. Humour ended quickly when a suitcase suddenly achieved buoyancy and sprang to the surface, striking a young Officer under the chin and killing him instantly. This Company now has an experienced Officer physically inspect agent's launches with a safety checklist before allowing their personnel to disembark onto them. Later, it transpired that another tanker owner present had lost a crewmember several years earlier under identical circumstances at the same west African port. The earlier incident was under a disinterested flag-of-convenience and managed by a here-today gone-tomorrow manager who had neither desire nor ability to share this incident. Had the more recent manager had that information, one wonders if there is a slim possibility that the young Officer may not have lost his life?

The point I would make here is to again encourage circulation of accident and incident reports.

I recently spoke to John Rose at CHIRP. John shares my view and wants to reach out to the superyacht sector, to receive and circulate accident and incident reports using CHIRP. For those of you who aren't familiar with CHIRP their web address is We are an industry gripped with paranoia over confidentiality but CHIRP is renowned for maintaining anonymity. I know Lulu Trask at The Superyacht Group is helping John promote CHIRP and I hope John gets his message out for the benefit of us all. Please participate. John can be contacted at For personnel on Watkins' managed yachts, confidentiality clauses don't apply if you ensure that the boat is not identifiable. If you want help with editing and camouflage, send them to me and we will make them non-disclosure friendly before passing them on to CHIRP (or obtain the principal's consent). In fact, happy to ‘pre-CHIRP edit' for non-Watkins' yachts too if required.

In reporting accidents, we often take the work of the UK MAIB for granted. For those of you who read the useless BeaMer report into the loss of YOGI, you will appreciate the value of the UK MAIB. It's just a shame their arrival on your doorstep is usually a bad day for someone. If they could investigate and circulate near-misses and incidents with equal vigour, we'd all be a lot smarter. With apologies for the ramble then, herewith MAIB report on the main engine room fire aboard cross-channel ferry PRIDE OF CANTERBURY while berthing in Calais 29th September 2014.

I won't summarise – there is much here for Captains and engineers to digest and I've taken enough of your time.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers are given an opportunity to read this. Much of the engineering is a little heavy on technical, but some of fire-fighting and housekeeping will be relevant to all. Please confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes.

Ferry incident