Ferry inspector ignored missing watertight door

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 1:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 2:32pm

A senior Marine Department ship inspector said on Tuesday it was not his duty to inspect the missing watertight door of the ill-fated Lamma IV even though he had personally passed through the opening.

Philip Yu Kick-cheun, a senior ship inspector who conducted inspections on Lamma IV in 1996, the year after it was built, said the department was only required to inspect specific ship parts upon request from shipyards.

"After going through the files, I thought the inspection of the hull structure was completed," he told the commission of inquiry into the National Day sea tragedy.

In one inspection, he had passed through an access opening in the aft bulkhead, which was marked as being fitted with a watertight door on drawings, but he did not bring the discrepancy to anyone’s attention as it was not the subject of his inspection.

He did not agree with his colleagues who testified previously that the watertight door could have been fitted after the boat was built. He said it should have been fitted during construction.

An expert’s report heard by the commission earlier said the missing watertight door caused three compartments to flood and contributed to the speedy sinking of the vessel after its collision with the public ferry Sea Smooth off Lamma on October 1.

Yu also said that in his final inspection in February 1996 he checked to ensure that the seats were securely fixed to the ship deck. In doing so, he examined the seat fixtures and applied force to various seats at random to test their stability.

But he said inspectors were not required to ascertain how the seats were fixed as it was not possible to see from the deck surface which materials had been used or inserted underneath.

Survivors have told the commission that many of the seats tore free on impact, trapping the passengers.

The inquiry continues.