The MAIB has published its report into the incident on the River Thames involving Tiger One. At 1738 on 17 January 2019, the commercially operated rigid inflatable boat Tiger One hit a mooring buoy on the River Thames in London, England, at a speed of about 26 knots in darkness. Two passengers and the boat’s two crew were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Tiger One was severely damaged.
Tiger One was one of two 12m RIBs owned and operated by 88 London Ltd that were used to provide sightseeing tours and charters on the River Thames. Tiger One was certified by the Port of London Authority (PLA) and permitted to navigate up to a maximum speed of 30 knots. The RIBs were purpose-built in 2008 by Ribcraft for personnel transport operations off Tunisia, but had been purchased and returned to the UK in 2017. The hulls were glass reinforced plastic fitted with ‘puncture-proof’ sponsons, and propulsion was via two 275hp inboard diesel engines with stern drives.
The skipper considered the RIBs to be very manoeuvrable and was confident that he could avoid objects sighted 30m ahead at speeds up to 30 knots. Modifications made before the RIBs entered service on the River Thames in June 2017 included the
replacement of bench type passenger seats with 12 individual ‘Ullman’ suspension seats, each of which was equipped with grab rails. Two rigid jockey type seats were fitted behind the steering console for the crew, and boarding platforms were installed at the bow.
About the incident
The skipper did not see the mooring buoy in time to take avoiding action. The buoy’s light was possibly difficult to see against the back scatter of shore lights and might also have been obscured to some degree by birds. The skipper had limited experience of commercial passages in darkness in the area. He was navigating solely by eye and had either thought that Tiger One was closer to the centre of the navigable channel, or had forgotten that the buoy was there.
More serious consequences resulting from the collision were prevented by Tiger One’s robust construction, seating arrangements, and the skipper’s use of a kill cord. 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.
Following the accident, the Port of London Authority has, among other things, removed its authorisation for open deck high-speed craft to navigate above 12 knots during the hours of darkness, and taken steps to enable these craft to report passenger numbers via the automatic identification system. The Royal Yachting Association has included guidance on night operations and passenger number reporting in its recently revised guidance on passenger safety on board small commercial high-speed craft and experience rides. In view of the actions taken, no recommendations have been made.
Click to view full report: Tiger_One_MAIB_Report