Provence - Gervans english summary

At 4.45 am on 8 August 2006, the PROVENCE river passenger boat from the company SLIBAIL ENERGIE, operated by the company CONTINENTALE DE CROISIERES, travelling to Lyon from Tournon with 39 passengers and 15 crew members aboard, struck the so-called “Table of the King” rock on the Rhone, in the Gervans district (KP 89.5).
The PROVENCE left the navigable channel following a flawed crossing manoeuvre with another passenger boat, the PRINCESSE DE PROVENCE. In the course of this manoeuvre, during which the normal rules of crossing were disregarded by the captain of the PROVENCE and there was no communication between the pilots of the two boats, a collision between the two boats, which could have had dramatic consequences, was narrowly avoided.

The impact caused a leak in the starboard hull. This leak necessitated the evacuation of the passengers, which was undertaken satisfactorily. There were no injuries. Navigation was not interrupted.

The main cause of the accident was the insufficient knowledge of the boat and the river by the captain of the PROVENCE, who was both piloting and commanding alone. He had been recruited a few days prior to the accident and had sailed in tandem with one of the permanent captains of the boat for just a few hours, which had not made it possible to transmit essential information on the boat, river and traffic.

The investigation also revealed that construction defects and unsuitable draining equipment that was poorly handled by the crew were likely to worsen the consequences of an accident causing a leak. These defects show that the construction of the boat was not inspected satisfactorily, and that the boat was badly managed on a technical level.

Eight recommendations were made following the technical investigation concerning four groups of factors identified for preventive action :
 staff skills and the organisation of the work, with three recommendations,
 the quality of the construction of the boat and its means of draining, with two recommendations,
 regulations governing navigation, with two recommendations bearing on the application of rules of crossing and the use of radio contact, and
 the duty of the navigation police, with one recommendation.

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