Damning report released into fatal Condor crash
The captain and senior officers on board a Condor ferry failed to notice a French fishing boat on their radar screen before a devastating crash which killed a father of four, a report into the tragedy reveals.
The captain and crew of the Condor Vitesse also chatted about subjects which were 'in no way related to their duties' just minutes before the horrific collision.
The details have been released in a long-awaited report by the French Accident Investigation Bureau into the accident, which happened in March this year, and claimed the life of 42-year-old fisherman Philippe Lesaulnier.
The French report makes clear that it has been compiled to improve further safety measures by identifying what caused the crash, rather than attributing criminal responsibility for it.
The report says: "In the wheelhouse almost continuous talks without any link with the watch-keeping, maintained an atmosphere not compatible with the necessary concentration to conduct a HSC (a high speed Condor vessel) in the fog."
It adds: "This behavior [sic], as well as the visibility are the causal factors of the incident."
The report says that the Captain and senior officers did not notice a blip on their radar screen which turned out to be the fishing boat 'Les Marquises'.
Monsieur Lesaulnier was killed instantly at 8.42am when the bows of the Condors struck him at 36 knots.
A transcript of a recording of the crew reveals that as the Condor Vitesse sped towards the French trawler in thick fog at 36 knots on a routine crossing between St Malo and Jersey with hundreds of passengers on board the master of the Condor talked about having watched 'Catwoman' the previous evening and told his first officer he was feeling tired.
The report also says the speed of the Condor combined with the poor visibility were also causal factors of the crash.
It reveals that the Captain of the Condor is French and aged 56, and has been an officer since 1977. The Chief Officer, 45, was an officer since 2004, and is also French. The French report notes that the Master and Chief Officer were relieved of operation duties by Condor and placed on extended leave pending outcome of enquiries.
Below: The French Accident Investigation Bureau summary:
Condor Vitesse sailed from Saint-Malo in thick fog conditions; the fog horn had been
inactivated very early and the visual lookout had not been strengthened. The speed had
progressively reached 37 knots.
In the wheelhouse almost continuous talks without any link with the watch-keeping,
maintained an atmosphere not compatible with the necessary concentration to conduct a HSC in
This behaviour, as well as the visibility are the causal factors of the accident.
When Condor Vitesse approached the Minquiers waters, both officers did not detect
2 vessel echoes ahead on starboard, the first was a ship that would be passing at a hundred of
meters on starboard, the second was Les.Marquises.
The potter was fishing, with her radar on, without emitting any sound signals. A hand
saw the HSC at the last moment but too late to alert the skipper. The collision cut the fishing
vessel in two parts, while on board the HSC there was a leak in the starboard bow compartment.
The aft part of the potter kept afloat for a time, allowing the two hands to stay on it
until they have been rescued by the HSC crew.