Sinking/abandonment of DUKW amphibious passenger vehicle Wacker Quacker 1 and fire/abandonment of DUKW Cleopatra

Location: Sinking at Salthouse Dock, Liverpool, England. Fire on the River Thames, England.

Accident Investigation Report 32/2014

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons and recommendations made:




Combined report on the investigations of the sinking and abandonment of the DUKW amphibious passenger vehicle Wacker Quacker 1 in Salthouse Dock, Liverpool on 15 June 2013 and the fire and abandonment of the DUKW amphibious passenger vehicle Cleopatra on the River Thames, London on 29 September 2013.

This investigation reports on two accidents involving converted World War 2 vintage DUKW amphibious passenger carrying vehicles: the foundering of DUKW Wacker Quacker 1 in Salthouse Dock, Liverpool in June 2013, and the fire on board DUKW Cleopatra on the River Thames in September 2013. Both accidents resulted in the passengers and crew rapidly abandoning the vehicles while on the water but fortunately, no-one was badly hurt. However, the outcome of either accident could have been very different– there was the potential for the loss of many lives, and there was significant potential for these accidents to have resulted in major loss of life.

This has been a complex investigation, the main findings of which are that:

  • The converted DUKWs had not been properly approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) when they were certified to carry passengers in 2000.
  • Over the years, the MCA’s regulatory supervision was insufficient to ensure the DUKWs were being operated safely.
  • Following the sinking of Wacker Quacker 1, extra buoyancy foam was inserted into the London DUKWs without considering its proximity to machinery, which directly led to the fire in Cleopatra.
  • The report contains recommendations to the MCA, DSVA and LDT aimed at: improving the safety of DUKWs operating in the UK; providing a consistent approach to meeting the UK’s regulatory requirements and; developing industry best practice.

Published 17 December 2014.

Published 23 January 2015