New Ferries River Trials Information Update to Stakeholders No. 3

Posted on 02 Dec 2008


On the 18th November Lymington Harbour Commissioners released a statement to update stakeholders on the progress of the risk assessment trials. We indicated that the results to date had shown some areas of concern and that LHC had met with Wightlink in order to discuss those concerns and to attempt to find ways in which they could be mitigated. Although initially disappointed with Wightlink’s response, the latest meeting on the 25th November was more positive.

This statement sets out the progress made since our last statement on the 20th November, and indicates the expected outcome.


1. We have received BMT Seatech’s definitive statement of risk reduction measures that they consider appropriate for an interim safe operating envelope (ISOP).

2. We have had a further meeting with Wightlink, at which we made them aware of the ISOP that we would require them to follow for any operations prior to the full completion of all trials and finalisation of the phase 2 report from BMT Seatech.  Wightlink committed to following the ISOP on a voluntary basis.

3. Wightlink have clarified its intention that the new ferries should enter service in January prior to the withdrawal of the current ferries. It is hoped that this will allow sufficient time for the outstanding risk assessment trials to be completed so that the vessels can be introduced based on the recommendations of the full final report. If not the vessels will operate under the ISOP.

4. Wightlink have agreed to modify the control software for the thruster units in an attempt to find a setting that provides a suitable compromise between power requirements and turbulence at higher wind speeds. Until this work is finished and trialled, the ISOP will remain as stated.

5. We also reviewed the possible need for controls to mitigate potential environmental concerns. The Commissioners are in detailed consultation with Natural England, and will reserve their position until these discussions have progressed at least as far as some interim recommendations.

6. LHC have yet to receive any response to our recent letters from either DEFRA, DfT or the MCA.

7. We have received comprehensive legal advice, confirming the routes that we would be required to follow in order to ensure long term powers of enforcement.

Expected Outcome

Pending the conclusion of the final risk assessment report, the W Class may be introduced into service based on the ISOP in the appendix, subject to Natural England’s environmental advice, which is expected in December.

Ongoing Concerns

Whilst significant progress has been made the Commissioners still have some concerns with regard to the way forward:

Given Wightlink have indicated that they will not extend the passenger certification for any of the C Class vessels, LHC wish to ensure an awareness that if the final Safe Operating Profile proves too restrictive to enable a regular routine service, there will not be any vessels available after 31 March to use when conditions are outside of the operating limits for the W Class.

As previously stated this is likely to be a fast moving situation and we will continue to keep you informed of any significant developments as appropriate.

Peter Griffiths Chairman – Lymington Harbour Commissioners

2 December 2008


Appendix –  Interim Safe Operating Profile

This is reproduced from the information received from BMT Seatech

1. The aft thruster must only be used on the lower power (harbour) setting in the river except in very exceptional circumstances when failure to use the normal power setting would endanger the ferry or other users.  2. As a precautionary measure, on all occasions until all masters/helmsmen have gained sufficient river experience, operations in the river should be limited to mean windspeeds up to 20 knots, gusting 25, as measured at the Lymington Starting Platform. Any revision of this limit will require further independent risk assessment and agreement with LHC. 3. No waiting in the river.  4. No passing in the river at all until all outstanding trials have been completed satisfactorily.  5. When in the berth or on the slip the vessel must be secured alongside and both thrusters must be shut down