Lamma ferry crash

Naval expert suggests separating roles to avoid inspection errors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 March, 2013, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 March, 2013, 8:10pm

The person who approves a ship’s drawing plans in the future should also be the one who inspects the ship, a naval expert testifying at the commission of inquiry into the Lamma ferry disaster said on Wednesday.

Australian naval architect Dr Neville Armstrong said this requirement would prevent mistakes similar to those made when inspecting the Lamma IV, which collided with another vessel, the Sea Smooth, causing flooding and the death of 39 passengers on October 1 of last year.

Marine Department officers approved the Lamma IV drawing plans that were supposed to ensure that damage to the vessel’s bulkhead would cause flooding to one compartment and not spread to others.

However, inspectors failed to notice that a watertight door was missing when inspecting the vessel, which, according to Armstrong, led to the flooding of three Lamma IV compartments and contributed to the speedy sinking of the vessel.

At the hearing, British maritime expert Captain Nigel Pryke also said that the investigation and prosecutions units of the Maritime Department should be a separate entity from the department, pointing out that international rules state that investigations into sea accidents should be conducted independent from any party involved.