On 4 June 2014 the passenger vessel Millennium Diamond made contact with Tower Bridge, London while on passage from Greenwich to Tower Pier, with 126 passengers and 6 crew on board. Ten passengers and crew were injured and the vessel’s hull was damaged.
the mate became distracted while replaying an unexpected VHF message about the closure of Tower Pier
the layout of wheelhouse equipment resulted in the mate not maintaining a proper lookout while replaying the VHF message
no Public Address announcement was made as activating the microphone did not automatically take priority over pre-recorded broadcasts
the vessel’s proximity to Tower Bridge and the speed of encounter was such that there was insufficient time in which to prevent the contact once the vessel had veered off course
there was no agreed holding area for the vessel to use when Tower Pier was temporarily closed
the syllabus for the Boatmaster’s licence examination did not test a candidate’s understanding of the risks arising from distraction and the proximity of hazards and the speed of encounter of vessels in the confined waters of the river
the Honourable Artillery Company did not inform the PLA that the time of the gun salute had been changed
unsecured storage equipment and drinks cans caused injuries to crew members when they became dislodged as a result of the contact
City Cruises plc has been recommended (2015/114) to review the ergonomics of the vessel’s wheelhouse to minimise the risk of distraction and; to expedite planned measures designed to address a number of safety issues identified in this report.
The Port of London Authority is recommended (2015/115) to promote the inclusion of potential holding areas in the port passage plans of commercial vessels operating in the Thames that may be used in the event of temporary pier closures.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been recommended (2015/116) to take action designed to ensure applicants for Boatmaster’s Licences can demonstrate inter alia, awareness about the risks posed by distraction.