Collision between aggregates carrier Brenda Prior and DUKW amphibious passenger vehicle Beatrice

Location: Lambeth Pier, River Thames, England.

Accident Investigation Report 16/2005

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

Brenda Prior-Beatrice.pdf (530.44 kb)


At 1508 on 17 December 2004, the aggregates carrier Brenda Prior, and the DUKW Beatrice, collided adjacent to Lambeth Pier on the River Thames. Brenda Prior was sailing downriver in ballast having just completed a discharge of sand at Battersea, Beatrice `was carrying 25 passengers on a circuit of the river between Vauxhall and Westminster Bridges. Beatrice sustained minor structural damage, but was able to return to shore, supervised by a Port of London Authority launch that was in the vicinity. Brenda Prior sustained no damage.

Safety Issues

  • standard operational guidance and procedures were not available to the J J Prior Ltd fleet
  • Brenda Prior’s master and deckhand’s certificates of competency had expired 9 months before the collision
  • Brenda Prior failed to maintain an effective lookout, resulting in the mis-identification of Beatrice and the subsequent collision.
  • PLA General Directions require vessels greater than 40 metres in length with the wheelhouse aft, to station a lookout at the bow, but not smaller vessels in the ballast condition trimmed deep by the stern and with limited visibility forward
  • although DUKWs are painted yellow, the visibility of these vessels could be improved
  • acting as Tour Guide reduces the DUKW lookout’s effectiveness
  • the skipper of Beatrice did not sound the ‘wake-up’ signal to alert Brenda Prior of his presence immediately before the collision
  • before her departure, Brenda Prior failed to note that Titania had entered the water, and Beatrice’s report was only partially heard
  • Brenda Prior’s master failed to report his intention to deviate from his planned track to pass under Lambeth Bridge via No.4 arch
  • the VTS Woolwich Information Service currently does not alert reporting traffic to DUKW operations between Vauxhall and Westminster Bridges
  • the skipper of Beatrice did not directly report the incident to VTS to avoid alarming his passengers


J J Prior Ltd has been recommended to develop their safety management system. The PLA has been recommended to review the mandatory VHF reporting requirements for DUKW operations, and to amend General Directions to provide further instruction on the requirement for, and the placing of lookouts. Additionally, London Duck Tours Ltd, the PLA and the MCA, have been recommended jointly to examine the options for enhancing the visibility of DUKWs for other river users.

This report was published in August 2005.

Published 23 January 2015