Grounding and flooding of passenger vessel Pride of the Dart

Location: Mew Stone rocks near entrance to River Dart, England.

Accident Investigation Report 12/2003

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

pride-of-the-dart.pdf (286.37 kb)


At about 1207 (UTC +1) on 28 June 2002, the Class VI passenger vessel Pride of the Dart, while on passage between Torquay and Dartmouth, grounded briefly, close to Mew Stone rocks, which are near the mouth of the River Dart. The vessel was badly damaged and began to flood; there was no pollution and none of the passengers was injured, although a number of them suffered shock.

Safety Issues

  • possibly due, in part, to gradual wear, the chain between the steering wheel and the drive shaft had slipped off the tensioning pulley allowing only steering to starboard but not to port
  • the skipper, who was navigating by eye and using his extensive experience, lost his positional awareness, which was exacerbated by the lack of navigational marks around this area
  • the skipper had become over-confident and his perception of risk was reduced, leading him to carry on through the passage rather than take the wiser option of moving away from the hazardous area
  • if the skipper had made a comprehensive voyage plan before the passage to the River Dart, he might have been more accurately aware of the state of the tide


We have since recommended Trinity House to review the area of Mew Stone rocks and implement such navigational aids to ensure the safe navigation of craft which ply these waters. This review has now been completed. Its conclusions are set out in Section 4.

Additionally, a Chief Inspector’s letter has been sent to the vessel’s owner/skipper recommending them to: * ensure a voyage plan, including contingency plans, is formulated for each passage; * conduct routine emergency drills; and * routinely inspect and maintain the steering gear system.

This report was published in April 2003.

Published 23 January 2015