Keel failure and capsize of charter yacht Tyger of London MAIB report published

Tyger of London keel matrix photo taken from the MAIB report
Tyger of London keel matrix photo taken from the MAIB report

At 0930 on 7 December 2017, the skippered charter yacht Tyger of London departed San Sebastian, La Gomera, bound for Marina San Miguel, Tenerife, with four paying passengers acting as crew on board.

At about 1700, 1 nautical mile south of Punta Rasca, the crew heard a loud bang. Tyger of London immediately heeled to starboard, capsized and inverted. The crew released their lifelines, fell from the cockpit into the water and their lifejackets automatically inflated. One crew member was briefly trapped below the yacht but managed to swim clear.

The skipper of another yacht, St Barbara V, which was 200m to the west, raised the alarm and rescued the crew from the water. Once landed in Tenerife, they were treated by Spanish emergency services before being released. There were no serious injuries.

The yacht was salvaged by its insurers on 13 December and taken to Tenerife, where it was declared a total loss on 12 February 2018. The MAIB investigation commenced on 19 February 2018.

The investigation found that the failure of the keel structure caused the loss of the keel and led to the yacht capsizing. Technical inspection of the keel plate, recovered with the hull, revealed that the keel had not been manufactured in accordance with the designer’s drawings. Furthermore, the unusual keel design meant that the condition of the weakest part of the keel structure could not be monitored or inspected as it was hidden within the external lead casting.

The investigation also found that the crew of Tyger of London were well prepared for emergency situations such as capsize; they were wearing lifejackets and the yacht was equipped with a liferaft and electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). However, the EPIRB and liferaft were not rigged to float-free and the crew did not have time to release and operate them before the yacht capsized.

The MAIB has issued a safety bulletin (see below to download) advising owners of yachts fitted with similar keels, of the potential risks of this design, specifically:
– to note, due to its design, the condition and tightness of the keel bolts do not indicate the true condition of the keel;
– to arrange for an out of water inspection by a suitably qualified surveyor if damaged, grounded or if in any doubt as to the condition of the keel;
– and, that technical advice could be sought from Gesti Nautica srl, a shipyard in Fiumicino, Italy, which has experience of repairing Comar yachts.

The report has highlighted the following safety issues:
– the yacht’s keel failed because it had not been manufactured in accordance with the design
– condition of the keel could not be monitored due to its unusual design
– the swift action of the nearby yacht and the crew’s decision to wear life jackets ensured they survived
– liferaft and emergency equipment on board the yacht could not be accessed, once the yacht had capsized

A number of actions have been taken by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and British Marine in response to this report, to improve guidance on keel inspection and the stowage of lifesaving appliances.

The MAIB has:
– Contacted the owners of UK registered Comar yachts that potentially had a similar keel design to Tyger of London.
– Issued a Safety Bulletin (Annex B) making owners aware that the shallow draught lead keel fitted to a range of Comar yachts might not have been fabricated in accordance with the designer’s drawings.

Conscious of the international review of ISO 10240 taking place in June 2018, the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents wrote to British Marine recommending:
2018/119 Propose to the International Organisation for Standardisation that the requirement for ‘information connected with the risk of flooding and stability’, detailed in ISO 12215-9 (Small craft-Hull construction and scantlings – Part 9: Sailing craft appendages), be enhanced, at paragraph F2.4.2, to require, rather than recommend, manufacturers to provide clear guidance on the inspection method and procedure for keels in the owner’s manual.

Actions taken by other organisations
British Marine has:
– In response to MAIB recommendation 2018/119, British Marine made the proposal at the ISO 10240 working group in June 2018. However, the consensus at the meeting was that, in light of British Marine’s and several other proposals, the international standard should instead be amended to require small craft owner’s manuals to: “Provide information, applicable to the craft type, for actions to be taken following a grounding of the craft.”

Following this and the Cheeki Rafki report, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency has:
– Drafted a series of MGNs to provide improved guidance on keel inspection and the stowage of lifesaving appliances.

The Royal Yachting Association has:
– Amended its annual letter to SCV owners and managers reminding them of the importance of reporting accidents to both themselves and the MAIB.

Read the report in full at Tyger of London MAIB report

Read the report annexes at Tyger of London-Annexes

Read the safety bulletin at Tyger_of_London_Safety_Bulletin


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