Home Boating Safety Ferry Crew’s “Lack of Situational Awareness” at Fault

Ferry Crew’s “Lack of Situational Awareness” at Fault

by Kurt Hoehne

The report is in from the collision in the San Juan Islands that resulted in a 25′ motor yacht sinking. According to this story from KOMO News, the US Coast Guard pins the blame squarely on the ferry crew. -KH


SEATTLE — The captain and another crewmember of the ferry Hyak were at fault for colliding with a small boat in the San Juan Islands in September, according to an investigation launched by Washington State Ferries.

The 382-foot Hyak was en route from San Juan Island to Orcas Island when it collided with the 25-foot motor yacht at the confluence of Harney and Upright channels in the San Juan Islands. The Coast Guard said the boat had a single occupant, who was picked up by another sailboat and there were no other injuries.

The 25-foot boat later sank in 250 feet of water.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley said the ferry’s captain and crew passed sobriety testing administered by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. But the WSF report released Wednesday determined the incident was avoidable as the Hyak, “had adequate time, equipment capability and ‘sea room’ to avoid the collision.” The report also states weather, visibility, tides and currents were not factors in this incident, and the root cause was instead human error due to “lack of situational awareness.”

According to the investigation, Captain Patricia Whaley only relied on radar and didn’t monitor the vessels on her route, and when Whaley gave a vague order about port rudder, second mate Kirsten Hervey incorrectly applied the starboard rudder.

“We conducted a thorough and detailed investigation into what happened and why,” David Moseley, WSDOT assistant secretary, ferries division, said in a press release announcing the report’s decision. “We’re now shifting our focus to making improvements to prevent future incidents.”

The report gives six recommendations for preventing future issues, including additional training, better defined job responsibilities, and considering placing voyage data recorders on all ferries.

The director of operations and human resource managers have also been given a copy of the report for review, a ferries spokesperson said. Meanwhile, Whaley and Hervey are on administrative leave.

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