Apr 262012

In the past six years 48 people have died in alcohol related marine incident - an average of eight a year.

It’s time to to stop boozed-up boaters becoming deadly hazards in the face of ineffective control of alcohol-limits says Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB in its report on the collision between the privately owned rigid-hulled inflatable Morfil and the passenger ferry Sun Clipper on the Thames on 1 June 2011, near Blackfriars Bridge. The Morfil’s coxswain was under the influence of alcohol.

Says MAIB: “The introduction of an alcohol limit for persons in charge of pleasure vessels was first recommended in The Hayes Report almost 20 years ago. Although the provision for such a limit was made in the Railways and Transport Safety Act, 2003, the pertinent subsections of the Act have yet to be commenced. The use of byelaws by harbour authorities to deter alcohol consumption on pleasure vessels is largely ineffective”.

The RIB’s two occupants were uninjured but at least 45 fatalities have resulted from accidents to pleasure vessels over the last 6 years in which alcohol has been a contributory factor.

The investigation identified several factors contributing to this accident, including:
•     Morfil’s coxswain was under the influence of alcohol and did not take action to avoid Sun Clipper until between 1 and 2 seconds before the collision.
•     The action taken by Sun Clipper’s master to avoid the collision was limited by the proximity of the road bridge and mooring buoys.
•     Refurbishment works under the Blackfriars Road Bridge resulted in both vessels using the same bridge arch and their skippers not being able to see each other until about 10 seconds before the collision.
•     Morfil’s speed was significantly greater than the 12 knot limit recommended by the Port of London Authority.
•     Morfil’s coxswain had limited knowledge and experience of navigating on the River Thames and was unaware of, or ignored, the local regulations and advice.

A recommendation has been made to the Department for Transport aimed at expediting the enactment of a national alcohol limit to persons in charge of pleasure vessels. A recommendation has also been made to the Port of London Authority designed to further enhance the safety of all water users on the River Thames.

Accident report

See also

Mugwop Fatalities Untrained, Vessel Unsound

Delta Injury: Kick In A Rib Became Pain In The Back

Nat’l Regs Need For Rough RIB Ride Safety


  3 Responses to “Morfil/Sun Clipper: Time To End Boozing Boaters – MAIB”

  1. I strongly advocate total ban of alcohol from all vessel and world-wide. Some tanker and off-shore companies have implemented “dry-ship” policy long ago and it seems to be workable. Any alcohol level limits or regulations allowing consumption of limited quantities of alcohol at prescribed time-span before duty is only allowing for fiction and fraud. And we are seeing increased number of accidents where alcohol abuse is a contributing factor. It is time to abolish a fiction o vessel being seafarers’ home-it is not. It is our working place with too many hazards and where contingencies or needs to substitute one another may happen anytime. Something needs to be done quickly and I believe at IMO resolution level.

    • I think the problem is two fold, first education and then enforcment. On the education side, pleasure boat groups in the UK like the Royal Yachting Assoiation and Inlandwaterways Assioation don’t see alcohol as a isses on vessel, like it has been on the road in the UK since the 1908s. This needs the change. Second if the enforcements powers are there, in an Act of partilment, make them use of them. The question I ask. Is why is the UK government dragging its feet over this. It is a known issue just get on with it, whats the hold up? IMO? We all know in the UK. If your commercial crew you get the book tossed at you.

  2. Reading articles about alcohol related boat accidents actually make me feel a little safer

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.