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Administration discovers 21 faults with ferry

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PHOTO: Tairo Lutter

A recent inspection of the ferry Leiger, currently being built in Turkey, by the Maritime Administration (VA) came across numerous shortcomings. The ferry's owner TS Laevad rejoiced two weeks ago, on October 19, how the vessel would begin its journey to Estonia in the next two or three weeks, and that major faults and systems had been fixed. The company's press representative said back then that “less important faults” will be addressed simultaneously with other work.

The administration's inspector checked the ferry last week and came across around two dozen shortcomings – vessels must correspond to strict conditions, some of which Leiger did not meet at the time. The inspector listed 21 faults.

While the findings are nothing out of the ordinary, it is clear more work needs to be done to address them. The administration concluded that it cannot be ruled out the ferry will indeed start its journey to Estonia inside the next few weeks, and that the faults will be addressed.

“However, the situation is not entirely normal,” said head of the maritime safety service of the administration, Marek Rauk, referring to the number of problems. “Ideally the ferry should be finished without any faults. That said, things are seldom ideal,” he added.

The 21 problems include minor issues as well as those that require more attention. The main problems that are definitely in need of solutions have to do with fire safety and navigation systems.

The administration cannot specify how and when the issues will be addressed. More so as the agency is tasked with pointing out faults, while repairing them falls to the shipyard.

Not all faults have to be eliminated before the ferry departs from Turkey. Dealing with some minor issues could be postponed, while that would call for additional safety measures.

CEO of TS Laevad, Kaido Padar, said that every new vessel exhibits a number of faults that have to be determined by the client. The said observations were made after sea trials and have been gradually addressed.

“No ship is delivered 100 percent finished; however, more important issues are always addressed,” he said. Padar also highlighted fire prevention equipment and guidance systems as the main problems. Delivery of the vessel has been postponed because of these issues, while the issues have now been dealt with according to Padar.

Because the Estonian Maritime Administration does not have the capacity to inspect shipyards all over the world, the agency uses the services of international risk manager DNV GL. When we ask why does the ferry still have so many issues immediately before delivery, the administration points to the company.

“Now we know for a fact there are shortcomings, while we don't know what they are,” Rauk said. Estonia is waiting for an analysis by the risk manager that should answer why requirements have not been met and what measures are being taken, both now and to avoid such problems in the future.

While DNV GL maintains offices all over the world, its representative in Estonia, Jaanus Peetsalu, said that he has little to no knowledge of Leiger's construction in Turkey. “I've never been on that ferry, and therefore cannot comment,” he said.

“I will not take it upon myself to comment on something I haven't seen,” Peetsalu said. He suggested contacting the press representative of the company that employs 14,000 people.

The VA needs to give Leiger the green light before the ferry can start traversing the strait between mainland Estonia and the island of Hiiumaa. The agency will audit the vessel once more before it departs from Turkey and heads to Estonia. “The audit will show what has become of these faults,” Rauk said.

Kaido Padar said that based on recent information TS Laevad would be taking delivery of Leiger inside the week.

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