The long awaited, yet frequently delayed, report into the sinking of the mega yacht Yogihas, at long last, been published by the French Authorities and is now available to read or download from their Web site. (www.beamer-france.org)
For a report published a full 12 months after the sinking, the document is somewhat sparse on facts and findings and appears to fall far short of the edifying document that the super yacht industry was hoping to read and learn from.
The 40 page report with a further appendix running to 50 pages gives little away that was not already known and in places, appears to directly contradict evidence allegedly given by the crew to the Greek authorities made just hours after the sinking.
The French report into the sinking of a French owned super yacht that sailed under a French flag, was managed by a French yacht management company, who employed a French DPA, carried a French crew and French insurance, does appear to be critical of the ABS (American Bureau of Shipping) the classification society that the French authorities authorised to supervise the build.
BEAmer clearly believes it would be a good idea to have verifiable evidence that backs up the testimony of the crew. This undoubtedly lies behind the recommendation that yachts should be fitted with voyage data recording devices (VDR)
What must come as a huge relief to the Turkish shipyard that built her, is that they are not found to be at fault. Memhet Karabeyoğlu the CEO at Proteksan Turquoise is delighted that the French report, by default, has exonerated the shipyard, which because of rumour and industry witch hunting has suffered financially.
He has said, “It is clear, as we at the shipyard have always felt and known, that Proteksan Turquoise acted within the law, that the shipyard did everything that was expected of it and that there was no failings on our part.”
Investigators had visited the Proteksan Turquoise shipyard in Pendrick a month or so after the foundering and been given access to three yachts, two of which were in build and the third, the 10 year old Mosaique, that was in the shipyard for routine maintenance.
Indeed, in April 2012 three Turkish Court appointed experts concluded that Yogidid not sink due to any design or engineering fault or any construction defect, the court appointed experts independently and without the knowledge of BEAmer arrived at similar conclusions, in part, to those reached by the French investigators.
The report is written in French but the authorities have helpfully supplied a translation of sorts. It can be read on line.
However, as published, the report still leaves many questions unanswered and because it does so, it raises many more that should have been addressed, especially when it comes to impartiality.
Why for example was the safe manning document never referred to? This is a yacht that normally carries a crew of 15, she was sailing in deplorable weather conditions yet was doing so, somewhat shorthanded with just one female and seven male crew-members on board.
Why is the subject of crew fatigue not looked into by the report? We know that the crew had been at work all day in the shipyard while preparing Yogi for sea. We know she took on bunkers after leaving the shipyard and simple mathematics, when applied to the practice of running of a large yacht, indicate that the guidelines for crew hours of rest may have well been breached. Why was this not mentioned in the report?
Then there is the matter of the floating cushions, a subject hotly debated among Captains of super yachts writing on the Internet. The cushions were, in all probability stowed below decks, but photographs taken from helicopters show them to be floating off the yacht’s starboard quarter? Yet the French report never mentions them, never questions what must have been open to let the cushions float free of the yacht.
The report states that the Captain had reservations about the yachts stability. Did he suddenly get these while he was out at sea or did he have them before he left the dock and chose to ignore them and sail the yacht towards Cannes anyway?
What about the breakdown in communications? Both telephone systems linking the bridge to the engine room failed? They would have been checked prior to departure, surely? The report draws attention to the fact that the yachts crew had on board 14 portable VHF sets yet repeatedly says that crew did not have them with them. Where were they?
Where is the ships logbook? It might well have answered some of these questions? Apparently, despite it being placed inside a watertight bag, it seems to have been lost during the rescue, yet crew appear to have managed to leave the yacht with their personal passports and valuable documents intact.
The French report has sought to report fully on the sinking but in reality it has left more questions unanswered than it has answered.
For professional yacht crew seeking to learn from such documents so that accidents such as these do not reoccur the French report into the Foundering of Yogi has left them in the dark.