Quay unsafe for new ferries
CIRCULAR Quay is not safe for today’s fast ferries, according to an investigation into a 2016 ferry crash that injured 20 people.
A long-awaited transport safety investigation has concluded wooden bollards at the end of the berths that are designed to crumple on impact and slow down ferries don’t work for the modern fleet of fast and light vessels.
Modern high-speed aluminium catamarans bounce straight back off the bollards, which fail to absorb the impact.
The “recoil” contributed to the hospitalisation of five passengers when the SuperCat 4 ferry from Watsons Bay lost control and crashed into Wharf 5 on October 11, 2016.
Both engines and an warning alarm all failed when the captain of the ferry, carrying 130 passengers, tried to put the engines into reverse two boat lengths from the wharf.
The captain was breaking the speed limit, which exacerbated the impact but was not the cause of the accident.
The modern ferries have all been fitted with new alarms to indicate engine failure and crew have new communication procedures, but the bollards have not been changed to “mitigate the risk of passenger injury” as recommended.
“Roads and Maritime Services regularly checks and maintains the safety and security of the ferry backboards at Circular Quay,” an RMS spokeswoman said.
“While the (Office of Transport Safety Investigation) report suggests that the backboards should be reviewed as modern ferries are lighter, the Circular Quay wharves are still used by a variety of different types and sizes of vessels.”
The crash aftermath.