The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Ship “Simplon” damaged by storm in Cully VD towed away

Updated at 30 Mar 2024 12:30 pm

The historic steamboat "Simplon", which was damaged in a foehn storm on Lake Geneva on Friday, was taken away from the jetty in Cully VD on Saturday. The CGN company ship was towed to the shipyard in Ouchy near Lausanne.

The damage to the steamer was "considerable", said CGN Director Pierre Imhof at a press conference. In particular, the "Belle Epoque" suffered a "large water ingress in the stern" and a smaller one in the engine room. Part of the hull and the floor were also torn apart.

Like CGN's other Belle Epoque ships, the "Simplon" had also been undergoing winter maintenance. On Thursday, she was taken out onto the lake for test runs without passengers. She was taken out of service due to "a problem with the engine", as Imhof said.

Initially, the CGN tried to tow the ship to the shipyard in Ouchy with another boat, but the maneuver proved to be too complicated, particularly due to the waves. The two ships even collided slightly.

Storm stronger than expected

The company then "weighed up the risks" and decided to station the "Simplon" at a "partially protected" location, in this case at the safety landing stage in Cully, the CGN director continued.

The ship was "secured to the maximum". Nevertheless, it was damaged in the storm. It hit the rocks on the shore and wedged itself against the jetty. "We hadn't expected such extreme weather conditions," said Imhof.

On Saturday morning, the CGN took advantage of a "weather window" to leave Cully. Before that, however, the rescue teams needed several hours to saw up the concrete piles of the jetty where the ship was stuck.

Investigation initiated

"It will take some time to understand what happened," continues Pierre Imhof. The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (Sust) launched an investigation to determine who was responsible, among other things.

The "Simplon", the largest steamship in the CGN fleet, turned one hundred years old in 2020. The 78-metre-long ship offers space for 850 passengers.

Due to the damage, the steamer will probably no longer be operational for the summer season. Pierre Imhof: "This is a slap in the face, a blow to our Belle Epoque fleet."

©Keystone/SDA

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