At 1135 on 15 May 2016, the passenger vessel Surprise suffered hull damage and started flooding when it grounded at Western Rocks, Isles of Scilly; all 48 passengers were safely evacuated to shore. The flooding was contained by the vessel’s own bilge pumps and it returned to harbour under its own power.
A passage plan had not been prepared for the trip. Passage planning is essential for every voyage to ensure all navigational hazards are identified and avoided.
Safety management systems should include guidance on the conduct of navigation and reactions to take in an emergency. Neither Surprise’s onboard procedures or the St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association safety plans contained sufficient guidance.
The Council of the Isles of Scilly’s procedures for issuing local boatman’s licences lacked rigour; there was no syllabus for candidates to follow, or assurance of training standards.
The Council of the Isles of Scilly has been recommended (2017/127) to review its procedures for the examination of candidates for local boatman’s licences.
The St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association has been recommended (2017/128) to update its safety management system to incorporate guidance on passage planning.