Person overboard while disembarking from passenger vessel Hurlingham with loss of 1 life

Location: Westminster Pier, River Thames, England.

Accident Investigation Report 12/2009

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

HurlinghamReport.pdf (595.98 kb)

Annexes (1,133.49 kb)


Late in the evening of 17 August 2008, a passenger fell into the River Thames and died as he was attempting to disembark from the passenger vessel Hurlingham onto Westminster Pier after an evening party.

Safety Issues

  • the skipper was distracted from his primary responsibilities of ensuring the safety of the vessel and passengers, by other duties concerning the running of the licensed bar and by tidying up after the party
  • the vessel was not adequately secured
  • the mate had left his position, supervising and assisting passengers, to reposition, and secure the boat
  • the vessel’s safety management system was poor, with ineffective emergency drills, flawed risk assessments and inadequate procedures for mooring and passenger disembarkation


In a safety bulletin (PDF, 1,159KB), issued shortly after the accident, WE recommended that the MCA and LRS took urgent action to satisfy themselves that Class V passenger vessels operating on the River Thames had effective systems in place to ensure their safe operation. In addition, the MCA has been recommended to improve the guidance available to operators for complying with the DSMC; and to improve the targeting of inspections on the operation of these vessels. LRS has also been recommended to assess the risks associated with the movement and control of passengers on its piers at night. A number of detailed recommendations have been made to the owners of Hurlingham on aspects of their safety management system, conduct of crew and arrangements for passenger access.

This report was published on 9 June 2009.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015