Grounding of passenger vessel Royal Iris of the Mersey

Location: Approaches to Eastham lock, River Mersey, England

Accident Investigation Report 11/2017

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened and safety lessons learned:

MAIB investigation report 11-2017: Royal Iris

Photograph of the passenger vessel Royal Iris of the Mersey (image: Trev Dry)


On 10 July 2016, the passenger vessel Royal Iris of the Mersey grounded on the remains of a mooring dolphin while manoeuvring toward Eastham lock at the entrance to the Manchester Ship Canal. The vessel’s 66 passengers were evacuated without incident and there were no injuries or pollution. The port propeller and rudder were damaged requiring the vessel to be removed from service and drydocked.

The MAIB investigation identified that:

  • The ferry’s experienced crew were focussed on a vessel departing the lock
  • The bridge team were navigating solely by eye and did not appreciate that the ferry was close to a submerged derelict mooring dolphin
  • The post-accident actions of the ferry’s crew were immediate and effective

Safety issues

  • Navigation by eye is not always accurate. More accurate means of monitoring are sometimes required
  • The vessel was not equipped with an electronic chart display and the paper charts used were not referred to


In view of the actions taken by the ferry’s owner and the harbour authority, no recommendations have been made.

Published 25 May 2017