Lamma ferry disaster
A boat owned by Hongkong Electric carrying more than 100 staff workers and their family members collided with a ferry in waters off Lamma Island at about 8.20pm on October 1, 2012. More than 100 passengers on the boat fell into the water. Thirty-nine people were confirmed dead after the accident. This is the deadliest boat accident in Hong Kong in 40 years.
Lamma IV passed marine department safety test despite inaccurate data
Evidence reveals the ill-fated Lamma IV passed a government safety test despite its manufacturer submitting inaccurate figures
The ill-fated Lamma IV ferry passed the government's safety test after its manufacturer submitted data from an inaccurate layout plan that showed six watertight compartments at the vessel's lower deck, rather than the actual five.
The evidence - which emerged yesterday at a commission of inquiry into the ferry's October 1 sinking - contradicted what Ken Lo Ngok-yang, the director of Cheoy Lee Shipyards, said last Friday, that there was never meant to be a watertight bulkhead between the steering gear compartment and the tank room.The inquiry heard yesterday that the Cheoy Lee's naval architect at the time, Cheung Fook-chor, who has since retired, mistakenly assumed the bulkhead needed to be watertight, fed incorrect data into a computer programme and prepared the Damage Stability Information approved by the Marine Department in 1996.
Lo also admitted that "the mistake" was carried over onto two subsequent stability reports when lead ballasts were added to the aft of the hull in 1998. The same ballast was then raised by 10 inches in 2005 without anyone questioning it, including the Marine Department inspectors.
The commission-appointed naval architect, Dr Anthony Armstrong, earlier said that a missing watertight door had led to the flooding of three compartments and contributed to the speedy sinking of the ship.
But Lo insisted that the ferry, with only four watertight bulkheads at the lower deck, would survive the damages and would not sink even when water seeped into the steering gear compartment and the tank room.
But calculations made by an independent naval architect appointed by the Department of Justice showed that the Lamma IV would sink when its last three compartments were flooded, given an 8.25-tonne ballast installed in 1998 at the ship's rear.
Lo also told the inquiry he was not sure whether Hongkong Electric, which owned the passenger launch, knew there was a reduction from six watertight compartments at the lower deck, as stated in the contract.
"They could be verbally told ... because they have their engineers or marine officers periodically checking the construction of the ship," he said. "There's no record of it."
Lo also admitted that there was a certain ambiguity concerning whether or not the bulkhead should be watertight.
But he had no idea if the Wuzhou Shipyard in China, which constructed the ferry, had requested clarifications, as he "was not the person overseeing the construction" at the shipyard.
Meanwhile, John Lim, director of Naval-Consult which designed the ferry, told the inquiry it was a mistake by the draftsman to call the bulkhead watertight in some drawings. "This could be the result of him modifying existing drawings from a previously built vessel [Eastern District No1]," he said, adding that the draftsman had left the company.
The inquiry continues today.