Lamma ferry crash
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Inspections identify six minor defects on local ferries

Only six of 304 vessels inspected after the National Day ferry disaster had problems with their watertight devices, the marine department said. And they were all minor issues, it added.

The department said it had inspected all the ferries and launches operating in Hong Kong following the fatal collision, which claimed 39 lives, and found that all their structures matched their plans.

It was revealed that a missing watertight door on the Lamma IV, which collided with they Sea Smooth near Lamma Island on October 1, contributed to its rapid sinking. The ferry was designed to have a watertight door, but it was not installed during construction.

In a paper submitted to the Legislative Council's economic development panel, the department said there were only six vessels found with minor defects in their watertight devices. On one ferry the plastic seal on the watertight door frame was damaged and the other five had minor problems with watertight devices on their bulkheads.

The department said the operators had rectified the problems and it had endorsed the corrections.

Vessels were also inspected for lifejackets. Following the tragedy, the Lamma IV was found to have no lifejackets for children. Eight children died.

As of Monday, there were 364 ferries and launches working in Hong Kong, some 361 complied with the stipulated number of lifejackets. One had its licence revoked because of insufficient lifejackets. The remaining two were undergoing maintenance and would be checked later.

The department said it had commissioned overseas consultants to review its working procedures and safety requirements.

The Transport and Housing Bureau also proposed 10 measures to improve safety. These included increasing the third party insurance premium, setting up a fund to aid victims of marine accidents, turning some safety regulations into legislation, enhancing training and examinations for coxswains and installation of CCTV in the wheelhouse. The bureau was discussing the measures with the industry.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Inspections identify six minor defects