MAIB report into the loss of the amphibious passenger vehicles WACKER QUACKER 1 and CLEOPATRA in the Rivers Mersey and Thames respectively during the summer of 2013

The MAIB published a combined accident investigation report last month into the sinking and abandonment of the DUKW amphibious passenger vehicle WACKER QUACKER 1 in Salthouse Dock, Liverpool on 15 June 2013 and the fire and abandonment of the DUKW amphibious passenger vehicle CLEOPATRA on the River Thames, London on 29 September 2013.

Those of you who attended our ISM training course in London will recall a lively discussion on the work of the MAIB in comparison to some of their overseas counterparts. This report illustrates this well and cannot have made comfortable reading for the MCA.

None of us here recall reading a marine accident report which begins with driving from a garage into the streets of Liverpool. A description of the world of DUKW amphibious passenger vehicles would make for light reading were it not for the real danger to life in both cases, and with reflection on 13 lives lost in Arkansas in 1999 when a similar craft sank. Should corroding 70 year old amphibious vehicles really be used for passenger transport in the 21st century? Questions for others but food for thought. A similar company operating in Dublin seems to have found a blindingly obvious solution with external buoyancy chambers and an open canopy.

To come back to the superyacht business, one should never say never, but we would expect craft of this type to be outside of our normal suite of tenders. There are of course lessons to be learned for own maritime sector with respect to unapproved modifications to buoyancy arrangements, prolonged unchecked corrosion, and adequate personal safety procedures. A light hearted approach to passenger briefings might assist the supervisor in maintaining a pleasing environment, but should be done with care and not deviate from the serious purpose of the briefing.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers are given an opportunity to read this. Please confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes. I can be contacted at any time if anyone has any questions. We would welcome any feedback of course, and would be pleased to circulate any comments.