Sydney ferry hits ship, bridge

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pyrmont Bridge, which the ferry collided with

A ferry operated by Sydney Ferries crashed into a whale-watching ship before hitting the Pyrmont Bridge in Darling Harbour at around 1 PM AEDT today. The accident is the second incident involving a Sydney ferry in the past two months.

The Sirius, a First Fleet class ferry was carrying around 100 passengers when it attempted to berth at a Darling Harbour warf and failed to stop. It is thought the ferry may have suffered a technical fault. The Sirius collided with the Ocean Dreaming, a 34-metre whale watching ship which was moored at the nearby Aquarium warf. The Ocean Dreaming had a sole crew member on board who escaped uninjured.

Sydney Ferries said that none of its passengers were injured in the accident and all disembarked safely.

Will Ford, the operations manager for the Ocean Dreaming recalled the incident. "It looks like one of the ferries coming into the Aquarium wharf has not stopped, and skidded past our vessel," he said.

"There's a bit of damage to the bow and it's continued on to Pyrmont Bridge where it stopped suddenly."

The incident follows an accident in January, when a Rivercat collided with a small boat, killing a fisherman and injuring his son.

Manager of Sydney Ferries, Geoff Smith defended the safety record of his services. He said ferry services have improved "out of sight" over the past year.

Mr Smith urged the public to put the incident into perspective. "We do about 1,500 along-sides every day, so to have one incident like this, one is too many obviously, but you've got to put that into perspective," he said.

"Safety is Sydney Ferries' highest priority."

Mr Smith told ABC Radio that an investigation would be held into the accident which would involve drug and alcohol testing of the Sirius's driver and crew but said he could give no further comments until the investigation was complete.