The maritime unit of Finland’s Traffic Safety Administration (Trafi) is to investigate a potential infringement of international maritime rules.
According to a report by Finnish state broadcaster YLE, Viking Line’s Rosella set sail without its bow visor being properly locked. The ro-pax ferry operates between Mariehamn in the Finnish autonomous archipelago of Åland and Kapellskär on Sweden’s west coast, about 100 km north of Stockholm.
The incident occurred back in February when Rosella left Mariehamn with its bow door closed but not hydraulically locked as required, Viking Line informed IHS Maritime. Åland Shipping Association was quoted by the Finnish state broadcaster as saying that, while the crew tried unsuccessfully to lock it, the hydraulic system failed to work properly.
The ship’s captain then contacted Viking Line’s chief technical officer, Tony Öhman, and it was agreed that if it was unable to complete the procedure when it reached a landmark lighthouse 7 km from port, then the ship would return to port. But Trafi claims the ship was already in open sea before the locking succeeded.
Rosella makes four return crossings daily and that day the wind speed was 15 m/s heavy seas and high waves. Viking has told IHS Maritime that watertight compartment doors were closed, also required by international rules, so the vessel was in no danger. Öhman said it was an open question as to whether rules were broken and a case needed to be answered.
Trafi’s maritime inspector told YLE that the regulations are clear. These were created 20 years ago in the wake of the 1994 MS Estonia disaster that claimed 757 lives when an unsecured bow visor was ripped off and seawater flooded in, sinking the ship.
No date has been set for the inquiry to publish its findings.