Swedish ferries equipped with ‘sinking’ life rings

Many of the life buoys on Swedish passenger ferries have a defect that causes them to sink when they hit the water.

Swedish ferries equipped with 'sinking' life rings

The problem was discovered during a routine check of Scandlines ferries in Trelleborg in southern Sweden.

During the inspection, a seaman noticed that one of the life rings felt too heavy. When he turned it upside down, several litres of water ran out of a hole.

When the seaman then threw the buoy in the water, it proceeded to sink.

During subsequent inspections, it was discovered that all the boat’s life rings had similar defects.

“I think it’s frightful,” Jörgen Zachau of the Swedish Transit Agency (Transportstyrelsen) told Sveriges Radio.

“That something like this doesn’t work and that it sinks it totally unacceptable.”

The life buoys were manufactured in Italy and sold by Veleria San Giorgio, which sells safety equipment to shipping companies around the world.

According to an investigation by SR, the rings were also found onboard one Gotland ferry, which operator Stena Line replaced about a month ago.

Waxholmsbolaget, which operates passenger ferries in the Stockholm archipelago, has three boats with 30 life rings from Veleria San Giorgio, but plans to replace them following the discovery of the defect.

The life rings meet all European safety standards, but the Swedish Transit Agency (Transportstyrelsen) plans to file a report on the matter in the coming days with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

“We take it very seriously that something like this can happen,” said Zachau.

Note: Life rings manufactured by Greek company EVAL, previously the subject of a European Commission safety warning, have subsequently passed flotation tests carried out by marine classification society Lloyds Register and by product testing firm Thelma on behalf of the Norwegian Marine Directorate..

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Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port

UPDATE: A ferry that ran aground next to islands between Finland and Sweden with nearly 430 crew and passengers on board, was refloated and heading for port, its owners said Sunday.

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port
The Viking Line ship Grace hit rocks in in the Aland archipelago. Photo AFP

The Viking Line's “Grace” hit rocks on Saturday afternoon while sailing between the Finnish port of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm, shortly before a stopover in Mariehamn, in the Aland archipelago, Finland's coast guard said.

The passengers had to spend the night on board, though there was no immediate danger as it was not taking on water. No one was hurt in the incident.

A tug boat helped refloat the ferry in the small hours of Sunday morning, the coast guard said on Twitter.

After disembarking around 260 passengers at Mariehamn, it went on to its home port of Turku in Finland, a Viking Line spokeswoman told AFP Sunday. It would undergo repairs in the coming days, she added.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, the coast guard said there were strong winds in the area at the time.

The company cancelled its Saturday ferry service, which was to have been taken by a smaller vessel, because of a storm warning.

In September, another Viking Line ferry, the Amorella, ran aground on the same Aaland Island and the passengers had to be evacuated.