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Captain of the 77-metre (252-foot) mega yacht GO Simon Johnson has sought to dispel rumours, answer critics and set the record straight in an exclusive interview with The Daily Herald, by describing the moments prior to the yacht’s sudden control malfunction in the crucial minutes of the line-up procedure to exit Simpson Bay Lagoon on Wednesday 24th February.
He says the incident has inevitably brought his competence into question.
The ultra-modern yacht, built in Turkey in 2018, is entirely computer-driven, yet for all the latest electronics, and a bridge brimming with computer screens and displays, the software apparently failed the British captain at the worst possible moment, leading to his choosing a deliberate impact with the St. Maarten Yacht Club wooden dock.
A second run-in to the dock was caused by, yet again, a computer miscommunication between the bridge and engine room in a bid to regain control.
Johnson confirmed that the yacht’s insurance assessors are progressing well in their survey of all the damage sustained to the boat, which is minimal, and the dock, and are engaged to set things right.
That said, the root causes of the malfunction have not yet been definitively identified and an intensive investigation is underway while the yacht remains at Ile de Sol Marina.
Johnson has defended his unblemished record as a captain and his split-second decisions that averted a far worse disaster. Like an airline pilot reacting to something unexpectedly going wrong mid-flight, Johnson was faced with a similar predicament, the difference being there are 400 souls at stake sitting in a plane at 30,000 feet.
In some ways, Wednesday’s extraordinary incident was Johnson’s “miracle in the lagoon” moment. There were no injuries, no lives lost, there was no oil spill, and the bridge was still intact.
“I’m proud that we walked away from a crash landing, and most importantly, there was no injury and the island’s arterial road bridge was not compromised,” Johnson said.
GO’s width is 13.5 metres (44 feet), the widest yacht to date to come through the bridge with just 50 centimetres of space on each side left to pass. In that sense, lining up absolutely correctly is key. GO has passed through the bridge in St. Maarten perhaps 20 times unscathed, always with a well-trained crew.
Johnson said he is deeply upset by the incident, but not concerned for his own record. He has done 28,000 miles on GO during his 3.5 years as its captain. He has been in the business for 40 years, 35 as a captain, visited 276 ports on GO alone, and often manoeuvred her in the tightest places.
The owner of GO released the following statement, “The owner is extremely supportive of the captain’s decisions and performance. Personnel, economic, environmental disaster were averted for the island. I have full faith and confidence in the captain and am very grateful.”
To read the full interview, visit The Daily Herald.
Source: The Daily Herald
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