C3/2009M M/Y NINAMARIA II and S/Y ILONA, collision to the North of Vänö on 27 June 2009
NINAMARIA II, a charter boat sailing under the flag of the United Arab Emirates, was journeying west from the Hiittinen Archipelago in the so-called icebreaker fairway and had reached the northeast side of Vänö island. The crew consisted of the master and a cook. The master was operating the boat single-handedly. The Finnish sailing yacht ILONA was sailing to the west on the same route in front of the boat. ILONA had a crew of two and was sailing down the wind with its sails spread open on two sides.
The difference in speeds between the two boats was approx. 10 knots, and NINAMARIA II was gaining on ILONA. The master of NINAMARIA II had noticed the sailing yacht in front of him, determined that the best way to overtake it would be by the right and changed the setting of the autopilot 3 degrees to the right. The master had then turned away to talk to the cook, who was in the cockpit, and failed to supervise the overtaking manoeuvre further. Instead of passing ILONA at a reasonable distance, NINAMARIA II collided into the stern of the sailing yacht.
The crew onboard ILONA had noticed that NINAMARIA II was approaching and gave hand signals to attract the master's attention. At the last moment, the crew jumped overboard, thus avoiding the collision.
As a result of the collision, the bow of NINAMARIA II went across ILONA's open area, and ILONA was partly submerged under NINAMARIA II. ILONA's mast was broken and fell over as a result of the collision, and severe damage was caused to the hull of the sailing yacht. ILONA sustained serious damage, but NINAMARIA II escaped with minor damage considering the circumstances.
The rescue was poorly managed due to the passive approach of NINAMARIA II’s personnel. The crew of the sailing yacht was mainly rescued through their own actions, as they managed to climb up onto the stern deck of NINAMARIA II.
The Coast Guard made sure that the boats involved in the accident reached Kasnäs, where maritime rescue association volunteers took over further measures needed to look after ILONA and its crew. NINAMARIA II continued her journey without assistance and left the country before its involvement in the incident had been conclusively investigated.
The cause of the accident was NINAMARIA II's failure to keep a look-out at the crucial moment when the boats already were in a close-quarters situation, and the associated error of judgement in avoiding ILONA. The master of NINAMARIA II had insufficient experience of navigation in the archipelago and an incorrect attitude to waterborne traffic safety. Shortcomings were also found in the ship managers' safety culture.
The investigators recommend that keeping look-out and the correct distance of giving way be highlighted in waterborne traffic, the safety plans and competency of large foreign vessels be inspected before the starting of operation, better after-care be ensured for victims of accidents and instructions be given to stop a vessel that is involved in an accident from leaving the country prematurely.