New safety guidelines following Anstruther boat accident

The collision between the two boats
The collision between the two boats
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Marine accident investigators have issued new safety recommendations folowing an accident in Anstruther last year.

A tourist suffered life-changing injuries following a collision between boats in the Firth of Forth in July 2016.

The Ospreys before the collision

The Ospreys before the collision

The 45-year-old mother-of-two was sitting on an inflatable tube in the rigid inflatable boat (RIB) Osprey II and was crushed when it collided with the vessel Osprey.

Both vessels were on their way from Anstruther harbour to the Isle of May when the collision happened at 12.52am on July 19 last year.

Before the accident the skipper of each boat had increased speed and commenced a power turn away from each other with the intention of passing in the course of completing a round turn, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch found.

As the vessels turned towards each other, it became apparent to both skippers they were in danger of colliding and although they both acted quickly to reduce the speed of their respective vessels, and so lessen the impact, they were unable to prevent the collision.

The injured woman, who was on the vessel with her husband and two children aged eight and 12, was taken to hospital after the incident and was put into an induced coma, having suffered two broken collarbones, five broken ribs, a punctured lung and cuts and bruising to her back and torso.

The internal injuries she suffered in the accident also resulted in permanent damage to her sight in both eyes.

There were 12 passengers on Osprey – 11 adults and one child – and 11 passengers on Osprey II, seven adults and four children, one being the skipper’s son.

Passenger spaces on Osprey II were normally limited to the eight spaces available on its four bench seats, however in good weather two additional spaces for the vessel were sold, with the extra passengers sitting in designated positions on its inflatable tubes.

The report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, released today (Thursday) said: “Passengers not sitting on suitable inboard seating have an increased risk of falling overboard, are at significant risk of musculoskeletal injuries and, as demonstrated by this accident, are exposed to serious injury in the event of a collision.

“The faster the RIB, the greater the risk.

“As a consequence, we have today recommended the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to include in its forthcoming Recreational Craft Code that the certified maximum number of passengers carried on commercially operated passenger carrying RIBs should be limited to the number of suitable seats designated for passengers.

“We have also made a recommendation to the Royal Yachting Association and Passenger Boating Association aimed at improving the guidance available to the operators of commercial passenger carrying RIBs.”

At the moment, there are no regulations to prevent people on boats from sitting on the inflatable tubes.

The marine accident investigators recommended the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s forthcoming recreational craft code include the stipulation the certified maximum number of passengers carried on commercially-operated passenger-carrying rigid inflatable boats should be limited to the number of suitable seats designated for passengers.

Isle of May Boat Trips Ltd, which owns and operates the two vessels, has banned passengers and crew from sitting on the inflatable tubes of Osprey and Osprey II, and has limited passenger numbers to 12 and eight respectively.

It has also issued an instruction that twin boat operations are not to take place except in an emergency and has reviewed its risk assessments to ensure they incorporate all activities undertaken by Osprey and Osprey II.

NO APPROACH: The attached MAIB publication is provided on the understanding that the families of the parties involved in the incident are not approached before the embargo expires.

Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents Steve Clinch said:

“The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has investigated several accidents in which people have been injured as a result of inappropriate seating on RIBs.

“There are currently no regulations preventing persons on RIBs from sitting on the inflatable tubes. Passengers not sitting on suitable inboard seating have an increased risk of falling overboard, are at significant risk of musculoskeletal injuries and, as demonstrated by this accident, are exposed to serious injury in the event of a collision. The faster the RIB, the greater the risk.

“As a consequence, we have today recommended the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to include in its forthcoming Recreational Craft Code that the certified maximum number of passengers carried on commercially operated passenger carrying RIBs should be limited to the number of suitable seats designated for passengers. We have also made a recommendation to the Royal Yachting Association and Passenger Boating Association aimed at improving the guidance available to the operators of commercial passenger carrying RIBs.”

At 1252 on 19 July 2016, two passenger carrying rigid infatable boats, Osprey and Osprey

II, collided in the Firth of Forth. A passenger who was sitting on an infatable tube of Osprey

II was crushed between Osprey’s bow and Osprey II’s helm console, resulting in her

sustaining serious injuries.

Both RIBs had departed from Anstruther Harbour and were bound for the Isle of May. While

proceeding in parallel at a speed of around 6 knots, the skipper of each RIB increased

speed and commenced a power turn away from each other with the intention of passing

each other in the course of completing a round turn. However, as the RIBs turned towards

each other, it became apparent to both skippers that the RIBs were in danger of colliding.

Although they both acted quickly to reduce the speed of their respective vessels and so

lessen the impact, they were unable to prevent the collision.

The manoeuvre had previously been carried out successfully on several occasions but

it had not been formally risk assessed and no thought had been given to what to do if a

collision situation developed.

There are currently no regulations preventing persons on RIBs from sitting on the infatable

tubes. However, passengers not sitting on suitable inboard seating have an increased risk

of falling overboard, are at signifcant risk of musculoskeletal injuries and, as identifed in

this accident, are more likely to be seriously injured in the event of a collision.

The operating company, Isle of May Boat Trips Ltd, has since banned similar manoeuvres

in future and has prohibited crew and passengers from sitting on the RIB infatable tubes.

A recommendation has been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to include in

its forthcoming Recreational Craft Code requirements for suitable seating in respect of

commercially operated passenger carrying RIBs.

At 1236, Osprey II departed Anstruther Harbour and was joined shortly afterwards

by Osprey. Both vessels then stopped briefy to allow photographs to be taken

(Figure 2).

Both skippers then increased speed and proceeded towards May Princess, which

was now 2.5 miles ahead of them. May Princess was travelling at around 6 knots.

Osprey II ran parallel with and on the port side of Osprey at an estimated speed of

17 knots.

Osprey II then crossed behind and onto Osprey’s starboard side, a manoeuvre

that resulted in the passenger sitting on Osprey II’s starboard infatable tube being

splashed.

As the RIBs approached May Princess’s stern, they slowed down to match its speed

(Figure 3).

1.3.3 The collision

At 1251, both skippers glanced at each other and nodded. This was the

pre-determined signal to start a turn manoeuvre. Osprey’s skipper increased speed

and put his helm hard to port, commencing a power turn to port. Osprey II’s skipper

increased speed and put his helm to starboard, commencing a power turn to

starboard (Figure 4).

As the RIBs turned towards each other, it became apparent to both skippers that the

RIBs were in danger of colliding. Osprey II’s skipper tried to avoid collision by turning

to port, reducing engine speed and engaging astern gear as soon as the engine

would allow. As the RIB rapidly slowed down, a child who was sitting on one of the

bench seats slid off her seat and onto the foor. Osprey’s skipper also tried to avoid

collision by turning to starboard and then to port and by engaging astern gear on

both engines, which rapidly slowed the RIB (Figure 5).

At 1252, the passenger sitting on Osprey II’s starboard infatable tube turned away

from Osprey’s approaching bow, which then pinned her to Osprey II’s helm console.

The starboard aft section of Osprey II’s infatable tube was punctured and rapidly

defated

Osprey II’s skipper, realising that the passenger was injured, pushed Osprey’s

bow away, freeing her. The skipper then made an initial assessment of the injured

passenger, who was in obvious pain but able to communicate. He tried to relocate

her onto one of the bench seats, but she was in too much pain to move (Figure 6).

Osprey and Osprey II returned towards Anstruther Harbour at slow speed as a

consequence of Osprey II’s defated section of tube and the injured passenger’s

discomfort.

The injured passenger remained in a slumped position, sitting on the tube and

leaning on the helm console. Her husband and one other passenger sat on either

side of her to provide support and comfort during the return passage.

At approximately 1320, Osprey II arrived in Anstruther Harbour and was met by a

coastguard team. By 1333, paramedics had begun treating the injured passenger,

who was subsequently transferred to hospital.

The injured passenger was 45 years old. She was travelling on Osprey II with her

husband, who was seated on the opposite infatable tube, and her two children aged

8 and 12 years, who were sitting on bench seats. The family were on holiday in the

area.

The severity of the passenger’s injuries did not become apparent until she was

passed to the care of the ambulance crew. On arrival at hospital she was put into

an induced coma, and returned home 3 weeks later to continue her recuperation.

She had suffered two broken collar bones, fve broken ribs, a punctured lung, and

lacerations and bruising to her back and torso. The internal injuries she sustained in

the accident also resulted in permanent damage to her sight in both eyes.

Osprey and Osprey II collided as a result of turning towards each other at close

range (Figure 11). The power turn manoeuvre had previously been carried out

successfully on several occasions but it had not been formally risk assessed and no

thought had been given to what to do if a potential collision situation developed.

This was the frst time that the power turn manoeuvre had been carried out with

Osprey II initially positioned on the starboard side of Osprey. On all previous

occasions, the turn had been started with Osprey II on the port side of Osprey,

the RIBs having crossed each other’s path twice prior to the manoeuvre. On this

occasion, the RIBs had crossed only once on account of the passenger sitting on

Osprey II’s starboard infatable tube getting splashed during the frst crossing. The

power turn therefore commenced with the RIBs in a different orientation and being

turned in the opposite direction to normal.

Both RIBs were travelling at approximately 6 knots when they increased speed and

executed the power turn. When it became apparent to both skippers that the power

turn had resulted in the potential for a collision, both acted quickly to reduce the

speed of their respective vessels and so lessen the impact. However, due to the

closing speed and the lack of sea room, the skipper had insuffcient time in which to

prevent a collision.

The fact that the power turn had previously resulted in the RIBs passing each other

starboard side to starboard side may explain why Osprey II’s skipper instinctively

turned to port. Had more consideration been given to the manoeuvre when it was

frst conceived, it would have been possible to agree how the RIBs were to pass

each other in any of the possible starting confgurations.

There are currently no regulations preventing persons on RIBs from sitting on the

infatable tubes. However, passengers not sitting on suitable inboard seating have

an increased risk of falling overboard, are at signifcant risk of musculoskeletal

injuries, and are more exposed to serious injury in the event of a collision.

SAFETY ISSUES DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT THAT

HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED OR RESULTED IN RECOMMENDATIONS

1. The power turn manoeuvre had previously been carried out successfully on several

occasions but it had not been formally risk assessed and no thought had been given

to what to do if a potential collision situation developed. [2.3]

2. The power turn commenced with the RIBs in a different orientation and being turned

in the opposite direction to normal. Had more consideration been given to the

manoeuvre when it was frst conceived, it would have been possible to agree how

the RIBs were to pass each other in any of the possible starting confgurations. [2.3]

3. Due to the closing speed and the lack of sea room, the skippers had insuffcient time

in which to react and prevent a collision. [2.3]

4. There are currently no regulations preventing persons on RIBs from sitting on the

infatable tubes. [2.4]

5. Passengers not sitting on suitable inboard seating have an increased risk of falling

overboard, are at signifcant risk of musculoskeletal injuries and, as demonstrated by

this accident, are exposed to serious injury in the event of a collision. [2.4]

6. Current regulation and guidance provide no metrics in terms of vessel speed or

weather conditions in relation to what constitutes suitable seating, and make no

specifc reference to other factors that may need to be taken into account to reduce

the risk of serious injury in the event of a collision. [2.5]

7. Of particular concern is the absence of a common understanding between

operators, the MCA, CAs, passengers and port authorities as to when seating on a

RIB’s infatable tubes is considered to be unsuitable. [2.5]

Isle of May Boat Trips Ltd has:

● Issued an instruction to the effect that no passengers or crew are to sit on

the infatable tubes of Osprey and Osprey II, in all circumstances limiting

passenger numbers to 12 and 8 respectively.

● Issued an instruction to the effect that twin RIB operations are not to take

place except in an emergency.

● Reviewed its risk assessments to ensure that they incorporate all activities

undertaken by Osprey and Osprey II