In October 2011 I was in Liverpool, where I took a couple of photos of DUKWs taking trippers around the still waters of the no-longer-used docks.
In Dublin, Viking Splash offers similar tours, with the regrettable addition of horned helmets, as not worn by Vikings. The Dublin operation seems to have added two other items that were not discernible on the Liverpool DUKW.
First, before they enter the water at Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend, the DUKWs are fitted with extra buoyancy in cylinders that slide into racks along their sides. I saw the VikingSplash crew removing the cylinders from the yellow DUKW; it took only a couple of minutes, and I presume that it didn’t take much longer to put the cylinders on.
Second, the Dublin passengers are issued with buoyancy aids before they take to the water. I can’t see any buoyancy aids on the Liverpool passengers, although it’s possible that they are out of camera shot.
Sometimes we complain about extra health and safety (which often means insurance) requirements. Then something like this happens: a yellow DUKW sank yesterday in Liverpool — for the second time this year. I don’t know whether the precautions taken in Dublin would have averted the accident or enhanced the safety of the passengers but it does suggest that the Maritime Safety Directorate bods in Dublin do have a point.
Addendum: the speaker on this clip says that passengers began putting on buoyancy aids, which suggests that aids were issued but not worn. Given how quickly the vessel sank, and how constricted the space inside is, it seems to me that passengers should wear their buoyancy aids throughout the waterborne trip.
Later: scary video.
Later still: a BBC story saying that a tyre may have caused the problem, the Liverpool mayor’s opinion (and some good photos) and the firm going into administration.