On 31 October 2013 I mentioned the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s safety bulletin about the DUKW fire in London and the DUKW that sank in Liverpool. There is more on the London fire today with a Guardian report on proceedings at the London assembly’s Thames passenger boat investigation committee. The Guardian headline read …
Duck boat passengers not wearing lifejackets when jumping into Thames
… and the story reported the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s maritime safety and standards director as saying that wearing of lifejackets would not have been usual on “such boats” and that lifejackets were safely stowed above the seats. The story also said that
London Duck Tours’ managing director, John Bigos, said the Cleopatra had the required legal number of lifejackets on board and that it was company policy that lifejackets were not worn on tours. He went on: “We have our reasons for this (non-wearing) but they are not to do with commerciality.”
There is a different policy in Ireland, where the Dublin Viking Splash operation says
Lifejackets: At the water entry point, customers are required to put on a lifejacket after the driver delivers an outline about safety on the water. The lifejackets supplied by Viking Splash Tours are Solas and CE approved buoyancy aids […].
The point that strikes me is that, in both UK accidents, passengers had little time to don lifejackets and would have been trying to put them on in a confined space and under less than ideal conditions. It seems to me that Viking Splash’s policy is the right one.
Posted in Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, Safety, Tourism, Water sports activities, Waterways management
Tagged Dublin, DUKW, fire, Grand Canal, Ireland, lifejacket, Liverpool, London, Operations, safety, sinking, Thames, waterways
Big it up for the Museum of London Docklands, near Canary Wharf. You can go there on the DLR, always a bonus, which will counteract the queasiness you feel at proximity to a large number of bankers, accountants and lawyers.
Apart from any temporary exhibitions, the Museum offers a chronological account of the ports of London from Roman times to the present day; you start on the third floor and work downwards. The timeline anchors the narrative, but there is no attempt to pretend that there is a single uncontested history: conflicts over slavery, dock labour schemes and modern redevelopment are all presented, using a mixture of text, displays of artefacts large and small, models, paintings, audio and video. Easy to spend several hours there; the Docklands at War section was particularly interesting.
And if you have time afterwards, nip around to The Grapes for bangers and mash (£6.50) [or whatever you like] and a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, which (weather permitting) you may be able to consume on the balcony overlooking the Thames, with the shingle below on which the mudlarks worked, while you remember all those Conrad novels and sing “Sweet Thames flow softly” .
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Industrial heritage, Operations, People, Politics, Sea, waterways, Waterways management, Weather
Tagged DLR, docklands, landlord, London, museum, Thames, Timothy Taylor
In June 2013 I reported on the sinking of a DUKW in Liverpool, the second of the year, and in September on the fire aboard a DUKW in London. Oddly enough, it seems that the two accidents had a common element: the foam added inside the hulls to improve buoyancy.
The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has found that the DUKWs in the Liverpool fleet had not been fitted with enough foam to provide 110% buoyancy, enough to keep the vessel afloat when flooded. MAIB’s tests on the Liverpool vessels
… raised serious questions about whether the operators of DUKWs could fit sufficient foam internally to comply with the current requirement for 110% buoyancy without compromising the safe operation and the practical day to day maintenance of these vehicles.
The “safe operation” part affected the London vessels. In July 2013, a DUKW had to be towed in after a drive shaft universal coupling failed when it overheated and ran dry of lubrication: engine bay temperatures were too high because of the volume of foam inserted. And a report commissioned by the London Fire Brigade into the September fire concluded that:
… the most likely cause of fire was the action of the rotating drive shaft (or other moving parts) on the oil contaminated surfaces of the buoyancy foam blocks.
MAIB has issued a safety bulletin [four-page PDF] with this conclusion:
The MAIB identified significant difficulties in fitting a DUKW with the volume of foam required to meet the buoyancy standards set out in MSN 1699 (M). Further, the nature of these old amphibious vessels, specifically their weight in relation to their size and the complexity of their propulsion arrangements, makes it difficult for operators to comply with the standards applicable to more conventional craft by solely using internal foam buoyancy. An alternative standard, ensuring that DUKWs have the necessary level of damage survivability, therefore needs to be established if they are to be operated safely.
It has recommended that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency should
… ensure that the means used by DUKW operators to achieve the required standard of buoyancy and stability for their vessels does not adversely impact on their safe operation. Furthermore, these vessels should not be permitted to operate until satisfactory levels of safety can be assured under all feasible operating conditions.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s website doesn’t seem to be working, but there is a BBC report here quoting an MCA person as saying
We will not be permitting the vessels to operate until we are satisfied that the necessary safety measures have been achieved.
VikingSplash DUKW in Dublin
All of this may help to explain why the VikingSplash DUKWs operating in Dublin are fitted with additional external buoyancy.
Posted in Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Operations, Safety, Sources, Tourism, Water sports activities, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged boats, bridge, buoyancy, canal, Dublin, DUKW, Grand Canal, Ireland, Liverpool, London, Operations, safety, vessels, VikingSplash, waterways, Waterways Ireland, workboat
Thames Clipper, London
Posted in Economic activities, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Operations, Tourism
Tagged boats, clipper, ferry, London, Thames, vessels, waterways, workboat