The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its report on a ferry accident in Seattle last year. The incident occurred when the captain of the Washington State Ferry Cathlamet collided with a mooring dolphin at a terminal, causing over $10 million in damage. The NTSB investigation revealed that the captain was likely suffering from fatigue, leading to a temporary loss of consciousness known as microsleep. The report also cited complacency as a contributing factor, with the bridge team not following proper docking procedures. The NTSB emphasized the importance of fatigue management and adherence to safety protocols in maritime transportation.
The NTSB report stated that the ferry captain had stopped rudder commands prior to the collision, but no corrective actions were taken. The captain had no memory of the events leading up to the collision, indicating a possible microsleep episode caused by fatigue. The report highlighted the need for seafarers to be aware of the dangers of fatigue and to arrange for a qualified watchman to take over if necessary. Additionally, complacency was identified as a problem, with operators not following established procedures and not actively monitoring the captain.
An internal investigation by Washington State Ferries had previously determined that the captain had lost situational awareness for unknown reasons, ruling out drugs and alcohol as factors. The NTSB report serves as a reminder of the importance of fatigue management and adherence to safety protocols in maritime transportation. The report calls for greater awareness and proactive measures to address the risks associated with fatigue and to combat complacency among ferry operators.