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Michael Whelan

Bretagne Bow Door Fault

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Welcome to the forum Michael.

2 hours to make the decision to turn her round! Wow! If I drive into a supermarket car park and then realise I won’t be able to open the boot of my car it takes me all of 30 seconds to spot the solution to the problem. I hope you didn't get home too late.

Ed

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It would take me less than 30 seconds to realise that a bow door of a ferry is a far more complex piece of equipment than the boot of a car is and therefore would require a tad more work to fix especially if that bow door was decades old.

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Isn't it more a case of once the decision is made it takes a fair while to put all the arrangements in place.  For a start, the ship's engines will need powering up again.  The mooring party will need to be convened, and a manoeuvring plan devised.   Then once you start, the time taken to let go, manoeuvre off the berth, retreat to a safe turning position, re-approach the berth and then re-berth is not insubstantial.  Once you take all of that into account I can see it easily taking an hour from decision to being in a position to open the stern ramp.  Might even be a re-ballasting of the ship needed.

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Would they really power down the engines before opening the door? Might past experience not tell them it's prudent to to wait. And are the engines not needed to produce the power to get the door open in the first place? On MT it looks like she reversed out and then backed into the neighbouring berth so I accept she might have had to wait for that to become free but even so I'd be a bit cheesed off in those circumstances and I only have a 20 minute drive from Portsmouth. Ed. 

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Does anyone know whether the issue was with the clamshells or the bow ramp which forms the seaworthy barrier at the bulkhead?

If there was a fault with either and they failed to re engage Bretagne would be classed as "unsecured for sea", a serious breach of SOLAS compliance regs which results in a further inspection with written permission given prior to the manoeuvre being performed. 

I'd suggest that it was this rather than the fault itself which took the time.

They'd then need to have all of the HGV's on deck 3 reverse off as there is not enough space for them to u turn at the now defunct bow before decks 4 & 5 could be juggled.

 

Edited by jonno

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On 20/10/2017 at 09:48, Cabin-boy said:

Welcome to the forum Michael.

2 hours to make the decision to turn her round! Wow! If I drive into a supermarket car park and then realise I won’t be able to open the boot of my car it takes me all of 30 seconds to spot the solution to the problem. I hope you didn't get home too late.

Ed

1

The decision was made much quicker than that, the challenge was closing the aforementioned faulty door (with hydraulic fault) to ensure the ship was safe to turn around. A watertight door on a 24,500 ton vessel is a bit more complex than a car boot.

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Thanks Jim. So if I understand from both your and Jonno's posts, the door opened part of the way then got stuck and they had trouble closing it again to allow them to turn around. Ed. 

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For older brethren here, any mention of bow door problems will forever trigger a flashback to  Zeebrugge and the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster – 30 years ago in March.

The loss of 183 lives is seared on the consciousness of mariners – and everyone connected with the roro ferry world, even tangentially.

As Gareth points out, the entire process – test, diagnosis, inspection, plan and permission – is complex, and would involve not only BF but the port operators and, you can be sure, QHM / Harbour Control who have over-arching responsibility for safety within the Harbour. It may even have required an independent engineer to inspect the door mechanism.

Even though the vessel's safety management system will undoubtedly cover bow (or stern) door faults, it is definitely not a case of consulting a checklist, ticking the boxes and then making a move. 

 

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Agreed Kenw that it is a key part of the ship's safety systems and there can be no question of complacency on the part of BF or the port. What there could however be is a simple systems check when they are within a couple of metres of the link span to provide the captain with a go/no-go option. This might tell them if any of the mechanisms was sticking or inoperative, allowing the alternative option to be used without significant delay. Ed 

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22 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

Agreed Kenw that it is a key part of the ship's safety systems and there can be no question of complacency on the part of BF or the port. What there could however be is a simple systems check when they are within a couple of metres of the link span to provide the captain with a go/no-go option. This might tell them if any of the mechanisms was sticking or inoperative, allowing the alternative option to be used without significant delay. Ed 

I see the logic, but at a couple of metres from the linkspan/on approach to it there will be enough going on in terms of bringing the vessel to a safe halt. It may also be that a specific fault couldn't be detected by a system test but would affect actual usage (say, for example, hydraulic pressure looks ok until the piston is used and leaks fluid everywhere). In executing the turnaround you then need to ensure everyone involved both on and offboard knows what is going on, and agrees to the plan.

I think on this one we do have to defer to the fact that those involved a) know more than us and b) have their reasons for taking actions as they did.

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I'd only criticise them, BF, if no effort had been made to keep pax informed and offer them a few free refreshments.  Also a three hour delay which judging from the OP is what it could have turned into could will impact on onward journeys and that too should be addressed.

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We get of Bretagne in September at 1830 ish and then have a 5 hour journey afterwards to the hotel which if we dock and get off at a decent time means a midnightish arrival, a 3 hour delay would mean a change of hotel and the costs incurred.

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