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20 May 2015, 06:42
A collision with a 5,000-tonne dredger off the coast of Felixstowe in which a yacht skipper's wife drowned happened because neither vessel had a proper lookout, an accident report has said.
Bernadine Ingram, 57, died when the yacht Orca collided with the dredger Shoreway in good visibility, seven miles off Felixstowe in Suffolk last summer.
Following an alteration of course by the chief officer on Shoreway, Orca entered ``a blind sector'' of obscured visibility caused by equipment on the dredger's bow.
This meant the yacht remained unseen by the chief officer until seconds before the collision, the report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said.
The MAIB added that Mr Ingram saw Shoreway about 1.6 miles away and, from its aspect at the time, judged there to be no risk of collision and decided to engage his autopilot and go briefly below.
The two vehicles collided at 1.31pm on June 8 with the badly damaged Orca sinking within minutes.
Mr Ingram was rescued from the water by Shoreway's rescue boat but Mrs Ingram, whose mobility was impaired following recent medical treatment, could not be found despite an extensive air and sea search.
Her body was recovered from the sunken yacht by divers the next day. Of the couple's two dogs on board, one survived.
The MAIB said the Shoreway officer of the watch, who was the chief officer, should not have been alone on the bridge at the time of the accident.
The report added: ``The vessels collided in good visibility as neither the chief officer, who was alone on the bridge of Shoreway, nor the skipper of Orca, who was below deck in the cabin, were maintaining a proper lookout during the period immediately prior to the collision.''
It added that the risks of vessels, especially small craft, not being detected in the blind sector on Shoreway had never been assessed by the vessel's owners Boskalis Westminster Shipping BV or the crew and were not mentioned in the master's standing orders or the vessel's safety management system.
The report also said the safety management system on Shoreway was a computer-based, fleet-wide, generic safety management system that was of little benefit to the ship's crew as it contained no vessel-specific information, guidance or instructions.
The MAIB made a series of safety recommendations and also said that action had been taken by marine and port authorities as well as by Boskalis Westminster.