Collision between high speed passenger ferry Sea Express 1 and general cargo vessel Alaska Rainbow

Location: River Mersey, England.

Accident Investigation Report 22/2007

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

SeaExpress1AlaskaRainbowReport.pdf (2,162.83 kb)

Annexes (1,637.98 kb)


At 1138 (UTC) on 3 February 2007, the high speed ferry Sea Express 1 and the general cargo vessel Alaska Rainbow collided on the River Mersey in thick fog. The collision holed the starboard hull of the ferry, causing her to list and trim significantly within seconds. However, there were only minor injuries to passengers and the vessel remained afloat. There were no injuries on board Alaska Rainbow, and the damage to this vessel was minor.

Safety Issues

  • a ground stabilised radar display was not used in the confined waters of a river transit, thereby making it difficult for the operator to distinguish moving targets from land radar returns

  • the pilot did not proactively communicate with Sea Express 1 and VTS at an early stage to ensure that all parties were aware of the hazard that Alaska Rainbow presented to other traffic, resulting unnecessarily in the development of a close quarters situation

  • the VTS duty staff were expected to absorb the additional workload that operation in restricted visibility demands; an independent audit of the Port of Liverpool’s safety management system might have identified this shortfall


Recommendations have been made to Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited, J.G. Gourmas (Shipping) Co S.A. and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.

This report was published on 27 September 2007.

Published 23 January 2015