After investigation report, Marine Department has taken lessons on board

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 2:47pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 June, 2016, 2:47pm

In an investigation report released last week, the Ombudsman pointed out that the Marine Department should improve its follow-up work after marine accident investigations. The department fully accepts the recommendations and is taking active follow-up actions.

In fact, the Steering Committee on Systemic Reform of Marine Department (steering committee), which was chaired by the secretary for transport and housing, with Alice Tai Yuen-ying, the former ombudsman, and Irving Koo Yee-yin, a retired senior business executive, as members, has made various recommendations to reform the operations and practices of the Marine Department in the past three years. The department has been undertaking reforms to improve its various regulatory functions and workflow. The government’s efficiency unit and maritime experts from the United Kingdom were invited to provide expert advice. Our efforts in the past few years have started to bear fruit. The Marine Department has enhanced its operational and regulatory capabilities.

Looking ahead, the department will continue to follow up on the recommendations of the “Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Collision of Vessels near Lamma Island on 1 October 2012” and the final report of the steering committee, under the guidance of the Transport and Housing Bureau.

Hydro 1, the Marine Department’s survey vessel sank, while being berthed at the government dockyard for maintenance in 2000, due to the negligence of the contractor. The hose connecting the main engine to the outside was not replaced after being taken out. Seawater then flowed into the engine room through the hose and affected the tank compartment, leading to the sinking of the vessel.

The government dockyard completed an investigation report in April that year. As acknowledged in the Ombudsman’s report, the recommendations at that time focused on the maintenance arrangements, which were implemented in their entirety in 2000.

As the incident was caused by improper maintenance procedures and had nothing to do with watertight doors, the report did not make any recommendation on the installation and design of watertight doors.

The department will never forget the painful lesson learnt in the tragic accident off Lamma Island in 2012. Since 2013, all Marine Department colleagues have been committed to reforming and uplifting its effectiveness holistically.

The department is resolved to carry out the reforms and further improve its practices. I sincerely hope that the department will in time regain public credibility and confidence.

Maisie Cheng, director of marine