New tests for ill-fated Suomenlinna ferry
The Finnish Maritime Administration has ordered new nautical tests for the apparently jinxed Suomenlinna II ferry. Furthermore, even the lags in the vessel’s steering mechanism that are apparently related to the problems with its manoeuvrability will be repaired.
According to the Finnish Maritime Administration, the operation is likely to keep the ferry out of service for several weeks.
The nautical tests will be re-run as after examining the vessel’s manoeuvrability, the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) does not regard the first test results as reliable. The steering mechanism of the ferry does not comply with VTT’s requirements nor with the original specifications.
"The control mechanisms of the ferry have to be improved", says Ove Hagerlund of the Gulf of Finland Maritime District.
"It is a control problem with the propellers", he explains, comparing the situation with the steering mechanism of a car.
Hagerlund supposes that it is this lag in the power transmission of the propellers that has caused the poor manoeuvrability of the vessel. However, referring to the frequent collisions of the ferry, he notices that the actual cause was the fact that the autopilot was on for too long.
Managing Director Jorma Salopelto of Suomenlinnan Liikenne Oy, the public utility company responsible for running a scheduled ferry service between the Helsinki city centre and the island of Suomenlinna, admits the lags in the steering system.
"In the course of the autumn, attempts have been made to fix the faults according to the wishes of the ferry’s crew", says Salopelto.
"If new tests are ordered by the Maritime Administration, they will be conducted", he adds. However, Salopelto does not blame the ferry’s collisions on the technical defects in the steering mechanism. He would sooner find the problem behind the wheel than in the vessel itself.
The Finnish Maritime Administration regards the repair plans for the ferry’s collision damage as sound.
Previously, the Suomenlinna II was ordered out of service temporarily in October, and even before that in August, until the cause of the ferry’s persistent electrical faults could be ascertained. Later on the ferry was allowed to return to regular scheduled use.
Moreover, soon after the ill-starred vessel started its scheduled service between the Helsinki city centre and the island of Suomenlinna, it nearly got banned already at the beginning of July, when an unexplained electrical fault first occurred. In subsequent tests, the fault could not be reproduced and the ferry was allowed to continue carrying passengers.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Safety issues over Suomenlinna ferry scare island inhabitants (17.12.2004)
Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT)