Lamma Ferry Tragedy

The Lamma Ferry disaster in which children died resulted from the exploitation of Hong Kong Electric workers who simply wanted a joyous outing with their children and were herded on board an inferior boat. The commuter ferries are unsinkable dual-hulled catamarans whereas the Hong Kong Electric ferries are single-hulled and old, and, they are use mainly to carry workers to the Lamma power plant. The boat that did not sink was a Hong Kong Ferries craft, the boat that killed people was the Hong Kong Electric cockle-shell.

The mainland’s insistence on making money, and its contempt for life and law, are on display here, seeping as it is into the culture of Hong Kong.

The class aspects of the tragedy resemble those of the Titanic where third-class passengers died out of scale to their proportion of the overall passenger manifest, and those of the “Eastland” disaster in Chicago 1919 in which General Electric workers were given an outing on a boat that was not tested for stability.

I developed a software program for stability in 1986 in Seattle but the only customers were universities with ocean-going research vessels and wealthy students. When my company attempted to increase my length on this job by peddling the code to fishing boats, the owners weren’t interested even though in not testing for hydrostatic stability they were in violation of the law. This is because the “job creators” stayed on land whilst crew stood to make a decent living going down to the sea in dreadful ships. One result may have been described in the true story behind the book and movie “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger.

When money’s at stake, truth is always negotiable, but the fact is that a dual hulled catamaran can be mathematically proven to be 100% stable just as the “fly by wire” A300 series of passenger aircraft can be proven to never crash by design, or a “double hulled” oil tanker can be show to six-sigma levels not to cause an oil spill. But there’s always some sort of thug who is ignorant of both practical and theoretical certainty, and, equally unaware of the existence of “certain doubt” such as obtained on the eve of the Challenger launch disaster.

Driven by greed and fear and taught by years of right-wing bull shit said thug is always ready to arrogantly dismiss modal truth claims…whether “it’s possible that the Challenger’s O-Rings will fail” to “maybe we shouldn’t use single hulled vessels to transport children”.

I’ve ridden the single-hulled Hong Kong Electric boats which are “borrowed” by Hong Kong Ferries when there are capacity problems. They are fun to ride by they simply don’t stand much of a chance against the catamarans, any more than I did when to impress the lovely Annapurna Nunez a few years back, I swam from half-way to Pak Kok to the pier where this accident occurred.


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