One of Manly’s new ferries failed testing in larger swells over the weekend, with the Gen 2 Emerald class vessel suffering rudder damage and a smashed window during the trial.
The window reportedly showered several rows of seats in glass shards when it hit a large wave, though operator Transdev insists it was not related to swell. We understand that a nut on the rudder became loose while navigating the waves.
While campaigners for retention of the older larger manly ferries – and those advocating for an electrified replica Freshwater class – say this is evidence of their unsuitability for the Manly run, operator Transdev says neither incident was a major issue.
The vessel did not lose steering and the master was in control at all times, we are advised. It is also thought, but not yet confirmed, that the window shattered due to the “vessel flex”, which could mean works are required throughout the fleet.
“From preliminary investigations, it would appear that the damage to the new Emerald window was not related to the vessel operating in swells,” a Transdev spokesperson said.
“Neither of the two issues reported are believed to be major and were not the cause for the vessel not being yet cleared for operations in large swells.
“The trial continued until the swell level reduced and was then concluded. Although the trial was not able to be fully completed, our crew utilised all hours available in swells up to 3m. We also unfortunately did not experience swells of 4.5m which is the highest swell level at which the new Emerald Gen 2 are surveyed.”
The new ferries will not be able to operate in swell above about 2.5 metres until they pass the trials. With recent turbulence in the harbour, this has meant several cancellations of the ferry, forcing commuters into longer waits. On Friday, no replacement buses were provided when the Emerald services were stopped and instead services were reduced to hourly.
Deputy Mayor of the Northern Beaches Council, Cr Candy Bingham, who has spearheaded the grassroots campaign to Save the Ferries, said the situation was “a total debacle”, leaving Manly abandoned during the busiest time of the year.
“The Manly route is the busiest on Sydney Harbour, and the Freshwater ferries are world-famous. Clearly, the Emerald ferries, designed as inner harbour ferries, are not suitable for the open water crossing the Heads. The slightest swell and their twin hulls buckle.
“It’s time for Transdev and the Government to solve this. In the meantime, the Narrabeen, which only requires an engine overhaul, should be brought back into the fleet. Four million passengers travelled to Manly by ferry in 2019 before COVID. Shoving people onto buses is not the solution” she said.