Collision between tug Chiefton and its tow resulting in tug capsizing and sinking with loss of 1 life

Location: Greenwich Reach, River Thames, England.

Accident Investigation Report 12/2012

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken, and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 12/2012: Chiefton

Annexes to MAIB investigation report 12/2012: Chiefton


At 1052 on 12 August 2011, the tug Chiefton capsized and foundered following a collision with a crane barge she was towing on the River Thames, resulting in the loss of one crewman.

Safety Issues

  • the pilot and Chiefton’s skipper lost situational awareness
  • the Port of London’s tow-specific risk assessment and passage plan focused on the bridge transit and did not cover the subsequent downriver tow
  • all of those involved had very limited experience with the specific tug configuration used
  • no one had been nominated to be in overall charge of the towing operation


Recommendations have been made to the Owner of Chiefton to comply with the PLA’s Code of Practice for Craft Towage Operations on the Thames 2011 with respect to risk assessments, watertight integrity, towing hook maintenance and the use of lifejackets and also the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to review its towing hook survey requirements and provide additional guidance on combined push/pull towage operations.

This report was published on 23 May 2012.

Published 23 January 2015