Steering control failure on high-speed passenger catamaran Moon Clipper resulting in contact with pier and several people injured

Location: Tower Millennium Pier on the River Thames, England.

Accident Investigation Report 21/2012

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

MoonClipper.pdf (2,256.50 kb)

Annexes (3,857.27 kb)


At about 1850 on 5 October 2011, the high-speed catamaran Moon Clipper hit Tower Millennium Pier at a speed of 8.5 knots. The impact caused fourteen passengers and two crew to suffer whiplash and/or minor injuries. The stem of the vessel’s port hull was fractured above and below the waterline, resulting in flooding of the port forepeak tank. Slight damage was also caused to a section of the pier’s handrails and rubber fender.

Safety Issues

  • the speed of approach accentuated the effect of the steering control failure
  • distractions on the bridge adversely affected the master’s reactions
  • crew resources were overloaded during the emergency response, no information broadcasts were made, the passengers were not mustered, and a headcount was not taken prior to the passengers being allowed to disperse


Recommendations have been made to Thames Clippers and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency aimed at improving the reliability of Moon Clipper’s steering and propulsion control systems and ensuring the vessel’s crews are sufficiently resourced to deal with all reasonably foreseeable emergency scenarios.

This report was published on 8 August 2012.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015