23rd August 2003

Trident VI ran aground on its return from Herm

At 10.55pm, one of the ferries that connect Guernsey and Herm ran into rocks in Percee Passage, a channel between Herm and Jethou. She had 179 passengers and three crew on board and was badly damaged in the collision. Three sections of the hull were pierced and started letting in water but, fortunately, nobody was hurt.

It was a late crossing, bringing back diners from a night out on Herm. They had boarded at Rosiere Steps, and the captain was attempting to manoeuvre around Jethou at the point of collision. Visibility was reduced both by the darkness and the thick fog that surrounded the boat.

Trident V, which was used for daylight trips to Herm, was immediately dispatched from St Peter Port to collect the passengers, accompanied by the lifeboat. One of the passengers used their mobile phone to call the police and tell them what had happened.

When Trident V arrived, she pulled alongside her grounded sister vessel and the passengers stepped across. Once they were safely off, the crew attached a rope to the lifeboat, which pulled Trident VI free of the rocks a couple of hours later. She returned to St Peter Port under her own power. The lifeboat accompanied her the whole way and stood watch while she was beached in the harbour.

A report on the accident attributed several causes to the crash. These included reduced visibility, over-reliance on a single navigational aid, travelling at unsafe speed in fog and the vessel’s poor handling characteristics. It noted, “Trident VI had a history of poor and unpredictable steering qualities, which could take the less than very experienced skipper by surprise.”

The Trident VI

Trident VI was 12 years old at the time of the collision. A 22.25m-long catamaran built in Gravesend in 1991, she had a maximum speed of 10 knots.

This was not the first time she had been damaged. The Trident VI had previously been hit by another vessel while at moorings, requiring a rebuild at St Sampson. That collision had happened in June 1994. Almost exactly a year later she hit a rock in Corbette Passage and was holed in two places. Again, she required repair at St Sampson. Corbette Passage is on a direct line from Percee Pass, heading towards Guernsey.


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