PLA speed crackdown

'Tiger One' 'Tiger One' on the River Thames. Images: MAIB

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has removed its authorisation for open deck high-speed craft to navigate above 12 knots during the hours of darkness in the aftermath of an evening collision.

January’s incident saw commercially operated rigid inflatable boat Tiger One hit a mooring buoy on the River Thames in London at a speed of about 26 knots, resulting in severe damage to the 12m vessel and minor injuries for two passengers and the boat’s two crew. The vessel had 10 people onboard in total and had been permitted to navigate up to a maximum speed of 30 knots.

“The skipper did not see the mooring buoy in time to take avoiding action,” concluded the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) accident report. It noted that the buoy’s light could have been difficult to see against the shore lights and birds could also have obscured it. It stated that the skipper had limited experience in the conditions of the incident and was navigating solely by eye.

Potential for worse

A robust construction, seating arrangements, and the skipper’s use of a kill cord prevented more serious consequences, found the report. “However, the circumstances of the collision indicate that there is significant potential for more serious consequences to result from similar high-speed accidents in the future,” it stated.

Following the incident, the PLA has also taken steps to enable open deck high-speed craft to report passenger numbers via the automatic identification system (AIS). Its research into the use of alternative lights and light characteristics is ongoing.

The Royal Yachting Association has included guidance on night operations and passenger number reporting in its recently revised guidance on passenger safety onboard small commercial high-speed craft and experience rides.

In view of the actions taken, no recommendations have been made, stated the report.

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