Collision between rigid inflatable boat Morfil and high speed passenger catamaran Sun Clipper with 2 people ejected from Morfil

Location: Blackfriars Road Bridge, River Thames, England.

Accident Investigation Report 8/2012

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

SunClipperReport.pdf (4,693.59 kb)


At 2321 on 1 June 2011, the privately owned rigid-hulled inflatable boat Morfil collided with the passenger ferry Sun Clipper by Blackfriars Road Bridge on the River Thames, London. The vessels were travelling in opposite directions. On impact, Morfil’s two crew were pitched into the water but were quickly rescued by the local inshore lifeboat; both were shocked but uninjured. Morfil eventually grounded under the road bridge and was a constructive total loss. Damage to Sun Clipper was only superficial and there was no pollution.

Safety issues

  • Morfil’s coxswain was under the influence of alcohol and did not take action to avoid Sun Clipper until between 1 and 2 seconds before the collision

  • the action taken by Sun Clipper’s master to avoid the collision was limited by the proximity of the road bridge and mooring buoys

  • refurbishment works under the Blackfriars Road Bridge resulted in both vessels using the same bridge arch and their skippers not being able to see each other until about 10 seconds before the collision

  • Morfil’s speed was significantly greater than the 12 knot limit recommended by the Port of London Authority

  • Morfil’s coxswain had limited knowledge and experience of navigating on the River Thames and was unaware of, or ignored, the local regulations and advice


A recommendation has been made to the Department for Transport aimed at expediting the enactment of a national alcohol limit to persons in charge of pleasure vessels. A recommendation has also been made to the Port of London Authority designed to further enhance the safety of all water users on the River Thames.

This report was published on 18 April 2012.

Published 23 January 2015