Heavy landing on rigid inflatable boat Celtic Pioneer with 1 person injured

Location: Bristol Channel, near Penath, Wales.

Accident Investigation Report 11/2009

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

CelticPioneerReport.pdf (921.22 kb)

Annexes (1,550.65 kb)


At approximately 1830 on 26 August 2008, a 55 year old female passenger on board the 9m rigid inflatable boat Celtic Pioneer suffered a lower back wedge compression fracture. She was participating in a 1 hour boat trip in the Bristol Channel with 10 colleagues as part of a corporate team building exercise. The injury occurred when the passenger landed heavily on her seat after she was momentarily lifted into the air due to the motion of the craft. She was treated in hospital and fitted with an external spine brace before returning home to begin a 6 month recuperation programme.

Safety issues

  • Celtic Pioneer was manoeuvred at speeds and/or in sea conditions such that the injured passenger was unable to maintain her intended posture when seated

  • A number of Celtic Pioneer’s features, including her hull and deck design, seating and handgrip arrangements, increased the likelihood of shock or impact related injury

  • There were several departures from the measures identified in the operator’s risk assessment. In particular, no action was taken when the injured passenger held on to the rope on the RIB’s buoyancy tube instead of the handrail


A recommendation has been made to the Passenger Boat and Professional Boatman’s Associations to develop an approved code of practice for thrill-type rides in the UK. A recommendation has also been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Royal Yachting Association with the aim of raising the qualification requirements for boat coxswains undertaking these activities. A further recommendation, intended to raise awareness of the dangers of shock and vibration in small fast craft, has been made to the Royal Yachting Association. A recommendation has also been made to the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services and the Institute of Licensing with the aim of encouraging operators to adopt the code of practice when completed.

This report was published on 21 May 2009.

Published 23 January 2015