Loading of private cars was on the wet, exposed extreme rear outside upper deck of this Ro-Ro ferry leaving very young children and infirm passengers to cross a wet, slippery obstacle strewn deck in driving rain and very high winds. There was ample sheltered, dry vehicle accommodation that remained unused throughout the passage. The loading supervising crewman could only explain the loading plan as being due to the crew having no idea how many vehicles were to be loaded – even though vehicles had been checked in for about an hour before loading – and told me I needed to ask the loading officer if I wasn’t happy with this explanation. I requested, via the Customer Service Officer if I might meet with the loading Officer once underway – but the Loading officer refused to meet with me to explain the reasons for this hazardous choice, and instructed the CS Officer to issue a complaint form.
I am not aware of any actual injury caused, but the increased risk of injury, accident or damage appears to have no explanation, other than that the Company did not appear to know what it was doing.
Lessons Learned: Loading of vessel must take into account passenger health and safety – as well as other loading considerations. A wet, windy, outside freight deck is a very hazardous and unfriendly place for children and infirm people.
CHIRP forwarded the report to the manager of the ferry. He responded, in summary as follows:
• The open deck in question is a certified passenger vehicle deck under Class and Flag rule.
• The deck surface is specially coated with anti-skid layer, deck fixtures are limited to elephant foot fixtures which are half circular shape painted with high visibility paint.
• For the day in question, the vessel was fully booked with passenger vehicles and trailers. The space referred to was likely to be a space left intentionally for a booked trailer that was still to be loaded, but stowed to ensure the passenger vehicles are able to leave at the port of arrival before the trailers.
• Vehicle decks are manned by a number of deck crew who are obliged to assist those who appear to need help or ask for it. Those who need assistance can ask at the check-in, they will arrange a cabin staff member to meet them at the vehicle deck and/or placing their vehicle near the lift for easy access can accommodate this. There is also information on our Web site for those who require assistance, to declare this prior to boarding.
CHIRP thanked the reporter for sharing his concerns and compliments the Ferry operator for advising us on their standard practices for loading vehicles, along with the information available to passengers requiring assistance when boarding.