Sinking of sailing yacht Ouzo after encounter with ro-ro passenger ferry Pride of Bilbao with loss of 3 lives

Location: South of the Isle of Wight, England.

Accident Investigation Report 7/2007

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

OuzoReport.pdf (1,444.82 kb)

Annexes (2,790.76 kb)

Radar Reflectors Report (2,180.00 kb)


The yacht Ouzo sailed from Bembridge, Isle of Wight (IOW), bound for Dartmouth, Devon on the evening of 20 August 2006. She had her three regular crew members on board who were intending to take part in the Dartmouth Royal Regatta. The body of one of the crew members was found in the sea just before midday on 22 August about 10 miles south of the Nab Tower. At about 1900 on the following day, the bodies of the other two crew were recovered from the sea. They had all been wearing inflated lifejackets and good quality yachting clothing. Despite extensive surface and sub-surface searches no trace of the yacht has been found.

Safety Issues

  • Ouzo was not seen or otherwise detected by the bridge team on Pride of Bilbao until it was too late to take effective avoiding action
  • the crew of Ouzo did not effectively warn Pride of Bilbao of their presence
  • Pride of Bilbao did not raise the alarm or stop and assist the yacht Ouzo after the incident because the watchkeeper was unaware that Ouzo was in distress
  • after the incident with Pride of Bilbao, the crew of Ouzo had no means to raise the alarm
  • the last minute helm action taken by the second officer to avoid the yacht was ineffective


Recommendations have been aimed at preventing glasses with photochromic lenses being used by bridge lookouts; improving the handover procedures between watchkeepers; and improving bridge night time blackout procedures. Further recommendations are aimed at improving the effectiveness of yachts’ radar reflectors, navigation lights and lifesaving equipment.

This report was published on 12 April 2007.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015