Ferry Runs Down Moored Yachts in Fog
At about 0800 hours on Sunday morning, the Isle of Wight ferry Red Falcon struck two yachts at the entrance to Cowes Harbor while attempting to enter during heavy fog.
The UK Coastguard and two local RNLI lifeboat teams deployed to search the area in the event that any occupants of the yachts needed assistance, but later confirmed that no one was in distress. One person aboard a private vessel had cried out to alert the crew of the ferry prior to the collision, and his shoulds were heard on shore and misinterpreted as a distress call.
The ferry, with 56 crewmembers and passengers on board, went aground at the harbor entrance. Red Falcon was refloated later the same day with the assistance of tugs, and she was brought alongside a pier in East Cowes to discharge her passengers and vehicles. She has since been cleared to return to operation and is expected to resume her normal schedule on Tuesday, but with a different master and chief mate.
One of the yachts sank following the collision, and its mast could be seen protruding from the water (above). It was raised on Monday, and photos published in local media showed that its hull had been broken in two.
In a statement, the CEO of operator Red Funnel noted that the yachts were moored and unmanned at the time of the accident. “On behalf of Red Funnel, I would like to apologise to all passengers who have been disrupted by this incident, and emphasise that we give the safety of our passengers and crew the highest priority,” said CEO Fran Collins in a statement. "As a precautionary measure, some amendments to our bridge operating procedures in reduced visibility have been made although these changes are not expected to impact on the reliability of the service or the frequency of weather-related cancellations."
It was the third collision involving one of the firm's vessels in a month, following an accident involving moored yachts and fog at Cowes on September 27 and another involving a motorboat on September 29.