Marine Atlantic ferry damaged in collision with dock in high winds

A car ferry’s stern was punctured when it struck a Newfoundland dock during a wind gust.

The 667-foot MV Atlantic Vision was damaged Dec. 22, 2009, in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. According to a statement from operator Marine Atlantic, Atlantic Vision was approaching the harbor at about 0745, with reported northeasterly winds of 25 knots.

As the ferry made its final approach to the dock, winds suddenly increased to 42 knots, forcing the vessel to strike the fendering system on the dock. The stern was holed about 15 feet above the water line. The boat sustained minor scraping of the tail fin, the company said.

According to Environment Canada records, at 0730 in Port aux Basques, the wind was blowing at 37 mph.

Capt. Peter Adams, Marine Atlantic’s director of fleet operations, told Professional Mariner that the captain tried to hold up against the wind, but was unable to. He had made his decision to dock based upon the information he had at the time, but the conditions changed, Adams said. He pointed out that the operating parameters of Atlantic Vision are 30 to 35 knots of wind, and the vessel is not able to hold up against 42 knots of wind.

“It is difficult to predict wind gusts. There is very little time to respond to wind gusts,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “The vessel was backing into the dock which means she was close to the dock when the gust hit. The captain didn’t have a lot of time to react, but he did react. The vessel was not able to hold against the strength of the wind gust. When he made his decision to enter the harbor, the wind was not gusting as high.”

Atlantic Vision is one of the ferries that regularly sails between North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port aux Basques across the Cabot Strait. Service was suspended until an assessment and repairs could be made. Customers were re-booked.

Atlantic Vision is a fast ro-pax ferry owned by the Estonian ferry company Tallink, under charter to the Canada-based Marine Atlantic. The ship was built in 2002 as MS Superfast IX by HDW in Kiel, Germany, for Attica Group’s subsidiary Superfast Ferries.

The vessel is powered by four Wärtsilä-Sulzer NSD ZAV 40S diesels with a combined power of 46,000 kW. It is equipped with twin screws, two bow thrusters and one stern thruster. The boat has a capacity of 962 passengers and 531 cars.

Marine Atlantic consulted with Transport Canada and other authorities on temporary repairs. While the vessel was out of service, MV Caribou and MV Leif Ericson operated between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

Repair crews worked through the night, allowing Atlantic Vision to resume service the next day.

“We were able to effect repairs due to having the right material and skill sets available on site in Port aux Basques,” said Wayne Follett, Marine Atlantic’s president and CEO.

Michel Drouin

By Professional Mariner Staff