Yogi Accident Report Released

21 February 2013 By Staff Report

The Bureau d’enquetes sur les evenements de mer (BEAmer), whose primary mission is “to conduct technical investigations into marine casualties or incidents,” has submitted its final report on the foundering of 60-meter M/Y Yogi. Yogi was delivered in 2011 by Proteksan-Turquoise, and sank on February 17, 2012, off Skyros Island in the Aegean Sea. She now lies in 500 meters of water.

BEAmer has concluded, “At the end of the final phase of this enquiry, it emerges from the comments of the owner, the shipyard, the classification society and of the flag state authority, that the vessel was technically beyond reproach and fully complied with the requirements of the French administration. Yet Yogi sank.” The hypothesis of attack or sabotage has been ruled out, and BEAmer believes the human factor is not the sole cause of the incident and has amended technical and administrative data to the final report.

M/Y Yogi was en route from Turkey to Cannes on February 16, 2012, with eight crew on board. The vessel was experiencing a following sea and wind and relatively fair weather conditions. Both engines were running; the vessel was doing 14 knots.

BEAmer states, “The foundering of the vessel can be explained only by a fast deterioration of the stability, due to a progressive flooding of the three compartments of the aft zone.”

According to the report’s timeline, which was provided to investigators by the crew and DPA in interviews afterwards, around 1:40 a.m. on February 17, the engineer noticed that the engine exhaust expansion ring was split on the starboard engine. No alarms were triggered, but the master shut down the engine. Engineers did not have time to make a temporary repair, and the engine did not come online again.

The port engine began to overheat, which was attributed to an insufficient cooling seawater flow rate. The engine shut down automatically. Again, no alarms were triggered or were heard by the crew.

After the port engine failed, the vessel stopped making way and went beam-to to the swells; Yogi began rolling and listing to port.

The engineers were able to restart the port engine around 2:30 a.m.; however, the vessel had lost steerage. According to the report, “When the master clutched in he observed that there was no answer to the helm: the autopilot was off and the two steering engines were ‘out of order.’ The alarm lamps were on and a thirty-degree angle to starboard was displayed on the helm angle repeater. In addition, [the captain] did not succeed in starting the bow thruster.”

When engineers went to investigate the steering issue, they found approximately 15 centimeters of water flooding the second beach club. The steering room also was partially flooded; neither reportedly had actuated a flood alarm.

While originally beach club one and two had been one entity, which was not compliant to the damage stability criteria set forth by the classification society, a watertight, hinged door had been installed between the two to restore watertightness. The report states that the classification society took into account the flooding of only one beach club, not both.

Several hypotheses were proposed within the report to explain the flooding:
1. The flooding of beach club one was due to a stern door watertightness failure
2. Late actuation of the water high level alarm in the steering room well
3. There may have been a malfunction of the three aft compartments draining circuit

Engineers started to pump out the water, returning to the bridge to report the flooding (apparently, no one carried a VHF). The first mate accompanied the engineers to investigate and one meter of water was then discovered in beach club one. A PAN PAN was issued at this time.

At this point, engineers and the first officer donned survival suits before conducting a secondary investigation. The crew stated that the water level appeared the same, but then, “Due to the tacking, the list shifted to starboard and increased suddenly. Water from the sewage tank flooded the engine room.”

At 3.40 a.m., the Hi-Fog room located aft of the engine room was flooded. The draining pumps ran dry and five minutes later, a tug was dispatched for a tow.

At 4:28 a.m. the first MAYDAY was issued and crew prepared to abandon ship. According to the report, the crew attempted to reach the life rafts on the sun deck around 6 a.m., but their access was halted as the “two glass windows were blocked closed by the list. The crew did not succeed [in breaking] them.” They took refuge on the superstructure.

A helicopter arrived on scene at 7:45 a.m. at which time the stewardesses were winched up. The six other crewmembers jumped into the water, despite deteriorating weather conditions, including snow and hail, and were winched up one by one.

At 8:50 a.m. all crew had successfully been rescued.

BEAmer has not reached any finite conclusions as to the absolute cause of M/Y Yogi’s foundering; however, 10 key points emerged from its investigation. These include:
* Rejection by the shipyard of the master’s request to perform a new inclining experiment during the technical stop at the end of year 2011
* Damage stability criteria did not take into account the most adverse situation (two contiguous aft compartments flooded)
* Ballasting constraints to limit the vessel draught in order to avoid submerg[ing] the free-board mark
* Important modifications not reported and not inserted in the vessel « as built » drawing package (27.9 metric tons additional keel, draining circuit) transmitted to the French administration
* Major works not reported in accordance with the company ISM system (stern door disassembly)
* Hazardous design option (lower part of the side door and of the stern door immerged), in particular with regard to the vessel cruising radius

The report is also designed to make recommendations to prevent an incident like this from occurring again. To that effect, BEAmer issued its recommendations to yacht owners, naval architects, builders, classification societies and administrations, which included:

* To free themselves from the standards of aesthetic that could impair the safety of the crew and of the passengers (life rafts accessibility in any event, for example)
* To ban architectural options that pose risks for the vessel safety
* To make it compulsory, in division 242, to have a VDR (fitted with a capsule with a hydrostatic release unit and a buoyant device) on board vessels over 500 GT
* To include in division 242 a stability study, similar to the one requested by division 211 for passenger vessels, particularly the consequences of a minor breach.

The full report can be found here with the English translation starting on page 42.

The Yard Responds:
Subsequent to the publication of this report, Mehmet Karabeyoglu of Proteksan-Turquoise, issued this statement:

“At a positive level, it is clear that we built and delivered a yacht according to state-of-the-art regulations and rules. The yacht complied with Division 242. However, the report is a limp effort.

“On 21st December 2012, we submitted a detailed response to the BEAmer draft report into the foundering of Yogi. Our comments were carefully considered and prepared with the help of our independent technical expert.

“We are extremely disappointed to see that a significant number of our comments on the draft have been not taken into account in the final BEAmer report, nor are they acknowledged. We do not expect our view to automatically hold sway, but what is disturbing [is] in several places where we pointed out errors in the conclusions drawn by BEAmer, in the final report, we now read altered hypotheses [that] support the conclusions we criticized. The alterations circumvent failings that we identified. For example, in the draft report, BEAmer mentioned that the speed of the Yogi was 16.7 knots at a 60 percent load on the engines. From our own sources, the speed originally cited by BEAmer was close to being correct. We advised them that the loading was incorrect, because at that speed and if the 16.7 knots speed was correct (which we believe it was) then the correct engine loading would be 100 percent; pushing any vessel in those conditions at 100 percent load is not wise. BEAmer decided to maintain the 60 percent loading and reduce the speed of the yacht in [the] final version. One has to ask why? Even though the yachts AIS was turned off, we know exactly what time Yogi left the Dardanelles, there are pilots’ records [that] clearly state when she cleared and we have the captain’s statements as to when the engines overheated. A simple calculation, which takes into account the distance travelled and the time it took to travel that distance, places the speed at around 16.7 knots and, of course, we have the original sea trial reports that confirm this speed can only be achieved at 100 percent load.

“We also presented them with photographs taken from the rescue helicopter, which shows the boat upright before the sinking. This photograph is significant, although we don’t want to go in details at this time. Photographs also show aft deck cushions, which were stored in the beach club, floating next to the yacht. This raises the question ‘how did they come out?’ of the beach club where they were stored? We also note that BEAmer accepted that assertion that the crew were able to see one meter of water in the beach club by using the outside watertight door. When we read the draft report, we thought that it was impossible to open that door inwards against one meter of water. We calculated the force needed to open the door. With the assumption there was no water in the staircase, if it is pushed on the handle, which is at the center of the door, 460 kilograms [of] force is required to open the door. If it is pushed on the farthest edge of the door, 230 kilograms [of] force is required. In the final report AFTER we pointed out the amount [of] force needed to open the door, new words were introduced into the report that state there was a lurch to port [that] forced the door open.

“But instead of looking at these human issues in any serious detail, BEAmer has chosen to concentrate on stability issues. It is common knowledge that stability of yachts and ships are based on different scenarios, and following inclination tests by computer software, this is carried out with the inspector of flag authority. If this test is ever doubted, due to a change in weight of the yacht or other loading conditions, this test must be repeated immediately, which can be done at any shipyard anywhere in the world as long as a surveyor from class and/or flag state authority is present.

“The yacht was delivered in May 2011 and cruised extensively during the entire summer season. When she was back at the yard for warranty repairs, which were largely painting and other minor issues, initially the owners wanted to repeat the inclining test and, yes, that was on the original warranty list. Yogi was in the shed for painting, and this test could only be carried out in water after the re-launching. When we received the final warranty list, the request for the stability test had been removed by the owners, so this was not performed. We have the emails [that] prove this, including the email from the owners representative with the final warranty list. Finally, following a short sea trial, the warranty list was signed off and Yogi left. There was never ever a suggestion that the yard had refused a stability test and there was no reservation on the warranty list relating to stability. We can only conclude that stability was not an issue, otherwise the captain would not have sailed for months if he had doubts about stability and certainly would not have sailed into poor weather after the warranty work if he had serious concerns about stability. The only inclining test done to date was done by ABS on behalf of the French flag before delivery. It was valid then. It is valid today because no intervening testing took place.

“As you can see, it is extremely alarming to us that BEAmer has concentrated on the initial warranty list, not the final agreed warranty list, which the owners had remove[d] the inclining test. BEAmer was supplied with the complete signed-off warranty list, yet BEAmer have only published a single page of that warranty list and not only that, but that page is incomplete. BEAmer had one full year to complete the report, yet this critical point, which throws a serious allegation at us, was excluded from the draft we were asked to comment on. Even if it is true, as BEAmer claims, that this allegation only gestated in January, they did not seek to verify this serious allegation.

“The allegation that important build modifications were not communicated to Flag is nonsense. Elsewhere, [the] report states that the additional keel and the drawings were approved by ABS, who had delegated Flag authority. The draining circuit was an owners’ post-delivery request for which the owner had not sought class approval.

“BEAmer claims that damage stability criteria did not take into account the most adverse situation (two contiguous aft compartments flooded), but they also concede that such flooding contingency is not a requirement of Division 242 and was only the subject of a French flag internal memo that was sent neither to ABS or us.

“Yogi sank in 7–8 hours after the initial incident. It is hard to fathom how the water flooded into three watertight compartments. The yacht had electrical power right up until the final sinking; why weren’t all three bilge pumps operated to try and save the yacht?

“These few issues makes the report extremely disappointing, and we do not understand the process that BEAmer used to collect and verify evidence. However, BEAmer’s general recommendations do merit consideration, even if several of their 10 key points are not supportable by evidence or contradict what BEAmer themselves have written elsewhere in the report.”