High-Speed Ferry M/V Iyanough Allision with Hyannis Jetty

I just found this on the Steamship Authority’s site. It is a great explanation of what caused the allusion on June 27, with 5 injuries. I thought it was worth a discussion regarding reliance on radar navigation when entering channels.

Report of General Manager Wayne C. Lamson to the Members of the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority on the Accident Involving the Authority’s High-Speed Ferry, the M/V Iyanough
June 27, 2017
As everyone knows by now, at 9:35 in the evening of Friday, June 16th, the Iyanough had an allision with the Hyannis Harbor breakwater. The vessel was traveling from Nantucket to Hyannis on its last trip of the day. There were 48 passengers, 6 crew members, and 3 food service workers on board the vessel at the time of the incident.
On behalf of the Steamship Authority, I again want to thank the Coast Guard, all of the local first responders, the crew of the helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, and the Iyanough’s crew and passengers who made the ferry’s evacuation safe and orderly under adverse conditions. Our concerns are first and foremost for the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew, and we deeply appreciate the efforts of all who guided them safely to shore.
The Coast Guard hoisted 5 injured passengers off of the ferry, as well as 10 other people who could not walk over the breakwater. The remaining passengers and crew were taken off the ferry to shore by boat. Acting Hyannis Fire Chief Dean Melanson has indicated that 15 people were brought to Cape Cod Hospital for various injuries, none of which were said to be life-threatening. All of the injured passengers and crew members were treated and released from the hospital.
Despite the impact of the allision, the Iyanough’s fuel tanks remained intact and there was no environmental damage as a result of the incident. The following morning, we were able to free the vessel from the breakwater and take it to the Hyannis terminal. Later that day, the vessel left under its own power to Fairhaven Shipyard so that it could be inspected to determine what repairs are needed before it can be placed back into service.
The Coast Guard is conducting an investigation of the incident, which includes interviews with the crew to determine its exact cause. We are also investigating the accident and, although our investigation is continuing, our preliminary findings include the following:

The Iyanough departed from Nantucket at 8:45 that evening bound for Hyannis. The winds were reported to be strong from the SSE at approximately 30-35 knots and visibility was diminished by intermittent rain and fog. The crossing itself was uneventful.

As the vessel approached the “HH” navigation buoy – which is located about 2,500 yards south of from the entrance to the main channel for Hyannis Harbor – security calls were made and the buoy was logged. At that point, the next navigation buoy the vessel would pass by on its way into the channel would be Buoy No. 4, which is located a few hundred yards south of the channel entrance, and after passing by Buoy No. 4, the vessel would turn starboard to go between Buoys 5 and 6, which mark the 240-foot wide entrance into the channel, at its usual operating speed of more than 32 knots.

After logging the HH buoy, the Captain asked the Pilot to use the vessel’s searchlight and light up Buoy No. 4 for him. The Captain then reached across the console and engaged the searchlight for the Pilot.

When the Captain returned to the RADAR, he recognized the familiar pattern of Buoys 4, 5 and 6 and began adjusting the vessel’s course to accommodate its entrance into the main Hyannis channel. The Pilot was unable to locate any navigational aids with the searchlight.

But what the Captain had interpreted on the RADAR as Buoy No. 4 was in fact the metal pole at the end of the breakwater, which is about 800 yards north of Buoy No. 4 and also north of the channel entrance. At that time, the breakwater itself was not visible on RADAR because the waves, which were estimated to be 8 feet high at the time, obscured the breakwater’s RADAR image, while the pole was visible because of its greater height above the waves. In addition, what the Captain had interpreted as Buoys 5 and 6 were actually sailboats located on the other side of the jetty. The distances and positions of the pole and the sailboats matched identically to the pattern normally associated with Buoys 4, 5 and 6.

Therefore, the Captain did not detect anything unusual about the vessel’s approach into Hyannis channel until, after adjusting the vessel’s course to begin its entrance into the channel, he saw the breakwater in front of the vessel and administered the “panic stop” as trained.

As far as we have been able to determine, all of the vessel’s navigation and mechanical systems were properly functioning that evening. In addition, the Captain and the Pilot tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

8’ is a stretch in the sea state in my opinion.

Also, why not refer to both the radar and the plotter? See that they match, or better yet as I’m pretty sure that vessels electronics do, overlay the radar on the plotter.

Having come in and out of there more than once, and living in the area, I think I might knock her back a touch when I can’t see the breakwall on radar, or find the turning buoy with the spotlight as I’m coming up to it.

I’m pretty sure they have FLIR as well.

Edit: also as far as the panic stop is concerned non of the passengers reported anything like that in their public statement. Her last AIS ping was within a couple boat lengths of the breakwall and it still showed her doing 32 knots.

here is a chart of the same area.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why the Cap wanted a spotlight on buoy #4, with all the lights (R4 Fl R 2.5s, G5 Fl G 4s, R6 Fl R 4s). Even the jetty pole that he picked up on the RADAR was supposedly lit. If I couldn’t pick out those lights right away, I certainly would have reduced speed.

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The Coast Guard could put that on the test. "Your boat is at 35 kts and the jetty is two boat lengths away, dead ahead, what would you do?: If the applicant answers “I’d keep that bitch hooked up, I love the sound of them cats at full load” - that guy would not pass the exan.


These are undoubtedly very capable guys with a lot of local knowledge who have made this same turn with the same vessel at this same high speed and low visibility hundreds of times.

They were advancing over half a mile per minute in poor visibility. No doubt they do that routinely to make their schedule. But at that speed in close quarters, it only takes a moment of radar misinterpretation or loss of situational awareness to stand into danger.

The benefits of basics, like slowing down in poor visibility, observing the proper distance off the land for the turn, and turning onto a specific new course cannot be overstated.


Yes, I agree that the pilot and Captain were probably highly experienced and are now both wondering how they made this error. But I have a question for any ferry operators. My assumption was that on a routine route like this, the navigator would already have the entire course plugged into the GPS with a full set of waypoints, especially at the turns. Can anyone with similar experience speculate why you wouldn’t be using a standard route on GPS for a run like this that is repetitive?

I think it more likely that they have the route well defined on an ECS.

Traitor Yankee made a good point that they should have had the radar overlaid on the ECS. Also, the course should have been digitally displayed on the ECS. At that speed integrating all the data onto one screen would be helpful.

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I haven’t been on the bridge of a big ship in 30 years. Just some harbor dinner cruise ships, a touring schooner, and my own small recreational vessel.

What happened to the “… proceed no faster than a speed at which you can stop in half the distance of visibility”?

While I recognize that might be too damn limiting for vessels with schedules to keep, it does seem that 32kts is just a bit excessive. JMHO.

But how common is a radar overlay on the ECDIS or ECS unit? I’ve only seen it on some of the drillships built in the last seven or eight years.

Yes it’s an excellent way to operate, but is it prevalent enough on these types of vessels yet?

Chalk another one up to highlight how FLIR can help as well.

Furuno Navnet is a pretty popular system for fast ferries in New England, the Habor Express boats as of a few years ago had three of them set up in the wheelhouse. The radar overlay is the best feature of those units. I don’t know the exact set up on the Iyannough, but chances are it’s something similar, and on the “yacht” spectrum. A lot of these “recreational” grade units incorporate those features for people running stand alone displays.

I believe it’s a required feature of an ECDIS.

Some fishing vessels had ECS w/radar + fishfinder overlay several years ago.

Rain and fog dramatically reduce the range of a FLIR.

This event proves the old adage of “you see what you expect to see” even if it’s not what you really see, and reinforces the fact that roaring along in the dark at 30+ knots in rainy fog when you don’t know where you are is really risky.

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Just curious if it’s required for the particular type, size, and tonnage as the vessel in question?

Even if it’s required, the mates need to be encouraged and trained to use it.

Radar overlay is part of ECDIS regardless of type, size, or tonnage. I’m not sure if the vessel in question has an ECDIS, they might have just had an ECS.

We had radar “adapters” on fishing boats 25 years ago that put a radar overlay on the chart plotter. Very common today on large fishing boats and many yachts to present both radar and ecs on the same computer screen . I’ve never seen it on a tugboat. Tugs are still way behind the times.

I’m not sure if it had radar overlay but Crowley’s tug Hunter (an Invader class tug) showed acquired radar targets on the ECS display back in 2006.

Even with current and up to date ECDIS , and with the watch trained on how to use it , at that speed they would most likely be ahead of the screen just enough to make a mistake .
What happened to " knock her down a bit till we get a visual " ?