Lamma Island. Image credit: @ctsnow.
Testifying in front of the commission of inquiry into the Lamma ferry disaster in Hong Kong, British maritime expert Nigel Pryke told commissioners that fault lay with crew on both of the vessels involved in the collision that claimed 39 lives, the deadliest maritime disaster in Hong Kong since 1971.
Pryke singled out as the “most significant cause of the collision” the “poor navigation by the coxswain of Sea Smooth,” though there were also “contributory failings by the coxswain of Lamma IV”.
South China Morning Post:
His report suggested that Sea Smooth captain Lai Sai-ming allegedly made seven breaches of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, while Chow Chi-wai, skipper of the Lamma IV, made three.
A contributing factor was that Lai was alone on the bridge when the collision happened, having allowed three other crew members to take a rest without instructing them to keep a lookout, the report said. Chow also failed to read the radar.
According to the regulations, when there is a risk of a head-on collision between two power-driven vessels, both should alter course to starboard.
But Sea Smooth made a 16 degree turn to port – “a serious contravention” of the rule – and did not alert Lamma IV. “[This] is even worse than doing nothing,” Pryke said.