Emergency Services were called to Wightlink’s Fishbourne Terminal shortly after 22:20 to reports of one of the company’s upper car decks had collapsed on one of their ferries. The mezzanine deck on the vessel ‘St Helen‘ appeared to have collapsed on one side, leaving vehicles left leaning to one side. Fire crews from Newport Fire Station were on scene alongside Paramedics, Police and HM Coastguard.
Shortly before 23:00 Ambulance crews arrived on the scene and spinal boards were seen being taken from a rapid response vehicle with the assistance of firefighters. There were four casualties which were conveyed to hospital by land ambulance, however, it had been confirmed there was no threat to life. Two are believed to be suffering from suspected spinal injuries whilst another two have suffered head injuries.
Vehicles stuck on the collapsed car deck have been reversed off, some driven by Police officers.
A statement from the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service has been released. A spokesperson has said:
“At 22:22 on Friday 18th July 2014 Isle of Wight Ambulance Service were alerted to an incident at Wightlink’s Fishbourne terminal.
A paramedic in a rapid response car and a ‘Bronze’ command officer in another car were despatched to the scene immediately. The Ambulance Service designated it as a significant incident and subsequently deployed two emergency ambulances to the scene as part of a multi agency response to the incident.
Four patients were conveyed from the scene to St. Mary’s Hospital. However non have life threatening injuries”.
The passengers on board a sister vessel ‘St Clare’, who had been waiting to dock for over 90 minutes, had successfully docked and disembarked at Fishbourne once St Helen had been moved out of the way.
Wightlink has this morning issued a statement regarding last night’s incident on board St Helen, a 30-year-old vessel.
A spokeswoman has said:
“The St Helen car ferry, the 21:30 sailing from Portsmouth Gunwharf with 181 passengers and 11 crew on board, arrived at Fishbourne at 22:16.
“As part of the usual disembarkation process, after vehicles on the lower deck had left the ship, the starboard forward mezzanine deck with nine cars on board was lowered. When it was a short distance from the deck below, it dropped a few feet and made contact with the lower deck.
“One member of the crew and three passengers have been taken to St Mary’s Hospital by ambulance. The Isle of Wight ambulance service has confirmed none of the injuries are life-threatening. A member of Wightlink’s staff attended the hospital to aid and support customers.
“A full investigation into the incident is underway. The incident has been reported to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Wightlink is fully co-operating with the authorities.
“St Helen, in common with all Wightlink ferries, is inspected regularly by external surveyors. The last independent engineering survey of the ship, including its mezzanine decks, took place in May 2014 during her annual refit”.
The following day the Isle of Wight NHS Trust have confirmed that all four persons conveyed to the hospital on the night of the incident had since been discharged.