Apparently broken cable revealed in photos from ferry incident passenger

OnTheWight speaks to a passenger who was onboard as the deck collapsed, who talks of an ‘almighty bang’ and photos reveal an apparently broken cable.

Wightlink collapsed deck - Sheared cable close up - Matt Jones

Photos shared with OnTheWight by one of the passengers onboard the Wightlink ferry involved in the collapsed car deck incident on Friday night reveal what appears to be a sheared cable.

Officials from Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) have been carrying out investigations on the vessel over the weekend and a spokesperson for Wightlink say they hope the MAIB will be reporting back to them tomorrow (Monday).

Quick thinking
Capturing the photo was down to the quick thinking of Islander, Matt Jones, who was on the St Helen starboard mezzanine deck when the incident occurred.

Click image for larger version
Wightlink collapsed deck - Sheared cable - Matt Jones

It’s unclear if the cable is sheared (it would be unusual to have a cable like that hanging around normally), or if the cable is related to the incident – the investigator’s report will reveal all.

As has been confirmed by Wightlink since the incident occurred on Friday evening, as the ramp from the mezzanine deck was being lowered down to the main deck, the left-hand side of the ramp suddenly dropped several feet.

Matt was one of those who had to attend hospital with two other passengers and a member of the Wightlink crew. He told OnTheWight they were all still coming to terms with what had happened.

OnTheWight speaks to another passenger
A passenger on the port side of the ferry, told OnTheWight she was the last car on the lower deck of the ferry, waiting for lorries to alight, when she heard an ‘almighty bang’.

Click on the image to see larger version
Wightlink ferry deck collapse - From the deck - Matt Jones

As she drove off, she looked in her rear-view mirror. She saw that nothing was underneath the collapsed deck, but that passengers were already out of their cars on the fallen deck.

A few moments later a member of Wightlink staff ran over to the port side shouting out, “Call the bridge!” to the other staff who were directing the final passengers off the ferry.

Image: © With kind permission of Matt Jones

Sunday, 20th July, 2014 10:01pm



Filed under: Ferry, Fishbourne, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story, Travel

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6 Comments on "Apparently broken cable revealed in photos from ferry incident passenger"

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The Sciolist
Great pic. All Wightlink ships mezzanine decks are lowered using this cable system. The cable passes around a wheel above the deck. As can be seen from the photographs, should the cable break, the deck falls. Once safely lifted, the ferries use a hydraulic locking system that means the cables are only under strain when raising or lowering. Eg they are only under load when the ramp/deck… Read more »
The Sciolist
Google this, The Engineering Mechanics Institute says: ‘Today, the most pressing issue for suspension bridge operators is to estimate the extent of corrosion and the likely remaining life of the cable.’ I do hope Wightlink will be asked specifically what checks were actually made on their cables. It’s hard to believe that our lives might have depended on a basic visual inspection of such a safety critical… Read more »
This is a different situation to the suspension bridge situation, as these cables are rolled over pulleys on a regular basis, flexing the cables, which might be expected to give the cables a specific lifetime before metal fatigue sets in (especially with the regular pressing of a salt-solution into the cable in this process to aid degradation). I wonder how regularly the cables have been replaced over… Read more »
James Luke

If this had happened on an aircraft we could be confident that similar aircraft would be immediately grounded until the systems were proven to be safe.

Can we have the same confidence with the ferries?


Interesting detail from the woman leaving the lower deck.

This confirms my previous posts. Selling deck space to Costa Coffee and posting zombie like PR staff at every staircase are not what Wightlink should be focusing on. The Ships with one exception,( and that one is poorly designed) are rusty old hulks. In any other industry there would be a suspension of services and urgent safety checks. and inevitably criminal negligence claims would follow, if maintenance… Read more »