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The MAIB has issued an interim report on the investigation of the collision between the high-speed passenger craft Seadogz and a navigation buoy, which tragically resulted in one fatality in Southampton Waters in August 2020.

Initial accident findings

Seadogz collided with the North-West Netley buoy because the RIB’s skipper was concentrating on conducting high speed manoeuvres in close proximity to another vessel and did not see the fixed navigational mark in time to take avoiding action. The reasons why the skipper did not see the buoy and the factors that contributed to the tragic consequences of the collision will be discussed in detail in the full investigation report.

Safety recommendation

As part of the ongoing investigation, all UK Operators of small commercial high-speed craft such as Rigid Inflatable Boats, sports boats and other vessels engaged in carrying passengers on trips and charters are recommended to:

Review the risk assessments for the operation of their vessels and take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that they comply with the safe working practices and standards contained in the Passenger Safety on Small Commercial High-Speed Craft & Experience Rides Voluntary Code of Practice.
Where an operator cannot comply with the provisions outlined in the Code of Practice, steps should be taken to mitigate against risk, and details of those measures included in the relevant operating procedures.
Voluntary code of practice

Commercial passenger RIB tours, RIB thrill rides and other similar high-speed trips have become increasingly popular in locations around the UK with the number of operators rising significantly over the past 10 years. Most high-speed passenger ride craft are certified by the MCA, so meet the standards set out in the SCV Code, but the conduct of operations and safety management are largely self-regulated.

In 2010, in response to an MAIB investigation report, the Passenger Safety on Small Commercial High-Speed Craft & Experience Rides voluntary Code of Practice (CoP) was published. The voluntary CoP, aimed at commercial operators of high-speed passenger craft, was last reviewed and Edition 3 was published by the RYA, British Marine, and the Passenger Boat Association in 2019.

Risk assessments

Operators of small high-speed passenger craft have a responsibility for ensuring that the risks to passengers, crew, vessels and the environment are assessed and adequately addressed.

The voluntary CoP provides owners, operators, skippers and crew with guidance on good practice for the safe operation of small commercial high-speed craft engaged in carrying passengers on fast sightseeing trips, adventure trips and charters. The guidance covers topics including: crew manning and qualifications; passenger safety, seating and handhold design; area of operation; operations in close proximity to other craft; hazard perception and voluntary auditing of operations.

The MAIB’s investigation into the Seadogz accident is ongoing.

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