Crush incident involving power operated watertight door on passenger cruise ship Royal Princess with 1 person injured

Location: North East Traffic Lane, Dover Traffic Separation Scheme off the south east coast of England.

Accident Investigation Report 34/2002

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

royal-princess.pdf (405.80 kb)


In the early hours of the morning of 4 August 2001, a third engineer on board the P&O Cruises vessel Royal Princess, was seriously injured when a power-operated watertight door closed, trapping his arm. He suffered extensive crush injuries which subsequently necessitated amputation.

Safety Issues

  • third engineer lack of compliance with operating instructions with which he was familiar
  • third engineer judgment possibly influenced by fatigue brought on because his watchkeeping routine had recently changed
  • written instructions on board for the operation of the watertight doors existed in three different versions, all of which were safe if applied but all of which, in our opinion, were unnecessarily onerous for day-to-day operation
  • unwritten accepted practice was different again from the written instructions
  • the number of doors that needed to be negotiated during routine machinery space rounds and the time it took to operate each in strict accordance with instructions or accepted practice, led to the probability that short cuts would be taken for expediency


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency are recommended to review the rules and guidance concerning where, and when, power-operated watertight doors should be kept closed at sea, and the current guidance on operating procedures contained in Marine Guidance Note 35, with the objective of encouraging compliance. Recommendations are also addressed to P&O Cruises.

This report was published in November 2002.

Published 23 January 2015