Leaked memo warns new Sydney ferries could become AIRBORNE in heavy swells
- New document warns captains of new Emerald-class ferries could lose control
- The ferries were introduced in October between Manly and Circular Quay
- Last weekend a 19-year-old fell overboard from one of the new Emerald ferries
A leaked document has revealed Sydney’s new Emerald-class ferries could become airborne in rough weather.
Captains of the new Manly ferries were warned to avoid steering the boats directly into waves near the entrance of Sydney Harbour or risk their ship becoming airborne.
The leaked document obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald said the new ferries were at risk of becoming ‘airborne’ amid the sometimes rough seas near the entrance to the harbour on the Manly to Circular Quay route.
It also warned of ‘tunnel slamming’ if they sailed into directly into a wave – or on a 45-degree angle to the wave – at a speed of about 10 knots.
A leaked document has revealed captains of the new Emerald-class ferries between Manly and Sydney Harbour were warned they could ‘lose control’ of their vessels
Tunnel slamming occurs when a water rises between the two hulls of the ferry and jolts the bridge deck.
‘This can be detrimental to the vessel’s integrity and the safety and comfort of the crew and passengers,’ the document states.
The document also advises against ‘running ahead of the swell’ as it could cause ‘trapping’ and result in a loss of control over the ferry.
Instead the memo recommends captains crossing Sydney Heads – the entrance point to the Harbour from the Pacific Ocean – steer the ferry in such a way as waves hit the beam, which is the width of the boat at its widest point.
Debate over the safety of the ferries reached a head last weekend when a 19-year-old had to be rescued from the harbour after falling overboard from an Emerald-class ferry
The new Emerald-class ferries have been the centre of heavy debate as people worry they can’t handle the sometimes heavy swells on the Manly to Circular Quay route.
Northern Beaches Council deputy mayor Candy Bingham believes Transdev – the operators of Sydney’s government-owned ferries – were asking captains to ‘do the impossible with the vessels they were supplied with’.
‘They are just not suitable for the route due to the size of the swells at the heads. They are just going to get totally trashed on this route, and we are already seeing evidence of that,’ she told the Herald.
Labor transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said the change in ferries was an inconvenience to locals.
‘For many passengers on the Manly route, the replacement bus has taken the place of a regular and reliable ferry service,’ she said.
Transdev said that the Emerald-class ferries were capable of withstanding Sydney’s ‘unseasonable’ weather and will be able to operate in 99 per cent of the time
The new ferries were introduced last October after the much-regretted retirement of the Queenscliff, one of four freshwater ferries that spent 40 years in operation.
Debate reached a head last weekend when a 19-year-old had to be rescued from the harbour after falling overboard from the Clontarf ferry – one of three Emerald-class ferries used on the Manly to Circular Quay route.
Action for Public Transport spokesperson Graeme Taylor condemned the new ferries as ‘very jerky’ and fragile.
Mr Taylor believes the freshwater ferries should be reinstated as the transport for the Manly to Circular Quay route and the Emerald-class ferries be used on calmer inner-harbour routes.
Transdev has dismissed criticism of the Emerald-class ferries and said the vessels had cleared their ‘full survey swell height certification’ last month.
They claim historical wave data shows the new ferries will be able to operate on the Manly route 99 per cent of the time.