Collision between container vessel P&O Nedlloyd Vespucci and sailing yacht Wahkuna resulting in yacht sinking

Location: English Channel off south coast of England.

Accident Investigation Report 28/2003

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

nedlloyd vespucci and wahkuna.pdf (967.14 kb)


At 1100 UTC on 28 May 2003, the container vessel P&O Nedlloyd Vespucci and the yacht Wahkuna collided in the English Channel in poor visibility.

Safety Issues

  • misunderstanding by Wahkuna’s skipper of which of the Collision Regulations are applicable in fog.
  • over-confidence in the accuracy of ARPA by the master of the container ship
  • acceptance by the master of the container ship of a small passing distance
  • the inability of the yacht skipper to use radar effectively
  • the failure of both vessels to keep an effective radar lookout
  • the high speed of the container vessel
  • poor bridge resource management


A recommendation has been reiterated to the MCA with regard to the issue of guidance to assist in determining a safe speed in restricted visibility. Recommendations have also been made to the Royal Yachting Association and the British Marine Federation with a view to improving radar knowledge among yachtsmen. The manufacturer of the locating beacon has been advised to check new and existing beacons for similar faults.

This report was published in December 2003.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015