Hongkong Electric accepted the brand new Lamma IV from a well-known Hong Kong shipbuilder even though a supervisor noticed it was missing a watertight bulkhead, the commission of inquiry was told on Tuesday morning.
Tang Wan-on, of Hongkong Electric, was involved in the ship inspection when it was handed over to the company by Cheoy Lee Shipyards, in 1996.
At the time he was “not too much concerned” about the missing watertight bulkhead, he told the inquiry. As long as Cheoy Lee built the vessel and the Marine Department approved it, there was no reason for the company to reject it, he said.
The commission was told earlier that if the watertight bulkhead – it was supposed to be between the tank room and steering gear room – had been in place, Lamma IV would not have sunk. More than 30 people died after the ferry collision off Lamma Island on October 1.
“From the viewpoint of a user, acceptance of the ship really hangs on whether the licence can be issued or not,” Tang said. The company had “absolute confidence” in Cheoy Lee as a reputable shipyard, and in the Marine Department.
He did not dare to raise any objection against the department, he said.
The hearing continues on Tuesday afternoon. Nelson Ng Siu-yuen, the general manager of Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, is expected to testify.