Accident Investigation Report 10/2023
On the morning of 22 August 2020, the commercially operated rigid inflatable boat (RIB) Seadogz crashed into a 4.5m high, 5-ton channel marker in Southampton Water at a speed of 38.4 knots. The RIB’s engine stopped abruptly and two of the passengers were catapulted overboard into the water, where their lifejackets inflated.
All eleven passengers and the skipper were treated in hospital, most for substantial impact injuries. One, a 15-year-old passenger, had sustained severe injuries when she was thrown against the handhold directly in front of the bench seat. She died in hospital that afternoon.
• The skipper did not see the buoy in sufficient time to take avoiding action. He had lost his positional awareness, most likely due to the high mental workload associated with operating at high-speed close to other marine assets.
• Seating and handholds afforded little protection to those on board in the event of a rapid deceleration.
• The RIB’s operating company did not have a safety management system, and their risk assessments were cursory and generic.
• The regulations did not consider the intended operation or high-speed operations of a small commercial craft. Significant limitations were identified, including:
• crash protection
• seat design
• forward visibility
• safety management system requirements
Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
Recommendations (2023/120, 2023/121 and 2023/122) have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to: conduct an anthropometric assessment of the design and operational requirements for the protection of passengers and crew on small commercial high-speed passenger craft; ensure the relevant outputs of the anthropometric assessment are, where appropriate, promulgated into guidance and incorporated as future requirements; and, to expedite the introduction of the Sport & Pleasure Vessel Code.
The British Standards Institution has been recommended (2023/123) to propose to the International Organization for Standardization that ISO 11591 is revised to include a field of vision requirement from the steering position of small craft.
A recommendation (2023/124) has been made to the British Ports Association, UK Harbour Masters’ Association, and the UK Major Ports Group to contribute to the development of guidance on the oversight of small commercial high-speed passenger craft operations in port areas.
Associated British Ports Southampton has been recommended (2023/125 and 2023/126) to ensure that its risk assessments consider the operation of small commercial high-speed craft within the port limits and agree the proper use of these craft with their operators.
The RIB’s manufacturer has been recommended (2023/127) to ensure that the design of the seats, handholds and restraints on its high-speed craft meet the latest relevant industry guidance and that the documentation provided to owners is accurate.