A report into the loss of three crew and the disappearance of a yacht last August confirms 'collision or near collision' with P&O ferry

A report into the loss of the Ouzo and her three crew, Rupert Saunders (36), Jason Downer (35) and James Meaby (36) south of the Isle of Wight last August has been published. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch report concludes that the Sailfish 25, which was on passage between Bembridge and Dartmouth, was involved in ‘a collision or near collision’. The bodies of the three men were found several days later but no debris from the yacht, a Sailfish 25, has ever been found.

The MAIB says it is ‘of the firm opinion that the yacht was in a collision or a near collisin with Pride of Bilbao [a P&O ferry] at 0107 on the morning of 21 August.’ The report makes extremely sobering reading and although the investigators have not been able to conclude anything about the actions or equipment on the yacht, they have made some conclusions and recommendations in relation to the ferry.

Among these is that the second officer was wearing photochromic glasses that were only 80% efficient – ‘that would have been a contributory factor’ the report says – and that the blackout procedures were poor and allowed white light pollution on to the bridge.

But they also point found that the yacht had not been visible on the ship’s radar, perhaps due to sea clutter. The octahedral radar reflector on Ouzo, which may or may not have been hoisted, had overall poor performance and there was a ‘50% probability that they would have been seen by the ship’.

The MAIB also point out procedures that might have helped, such as shining torches or lamps on the sails, alerting the ferry by VHF radio and letting off a flare. There are a number of other comments and conclusions here that make this report a must-read.