Yachting & Boating World: A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch concluded that the foam provided a ready source of fuel.
An investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has found that unprotected buoyancy foam packed around the engine compartment of a duck boat led to the fire on board in September 2013.
A total of 30 passengers and crew were forced to abandon Cleopatra after a major fire took hold during London Duck Tour’s (LDT) amphibious sightseeing tour on the Thames. Everyone rapidly abandoned the DUKW vessel and luckily no one was injured or killed as a result of the incident.
A report into the fire found that buoyancy foam recently packed into the central void space provided a “ready source of fuel for the blaze”. Following a previous incident in which a duck boat in Liverpool sank due to inadequate amounts of buoyancy foam, the MCA found LDT vehicles also had a lack of buoyancy foam and instructed them to increase the volume to meet UK standards.
However, practical trials and reconstructions carried out by the MAIB in July 2013 showed that the calculated foam required to provide sufficient buoyancy, could not physically be fitted into the designated locations.
Despite these findings, and MAIB recommendations, LDT continued to stuff increased quantities of foam into its vehicles. The report said: “LDT was under pressure to meet the damaged survivability standard and gave insufficient attention to the adverse effects and the risks associated with packing foam close to the unguarded drivetrain and unlagged exhausts.
“The operator chose to accept the increased maintenance burden and continued to operate its vehicles with an elevated risk of mechanical failure and fire.”
Grease contaminated buoyancy foam and an overheating shaft universal joint was the most likely causes of the fire, found the report. “Had the fire and subsequent abandonment happened at high water, or in mid-river, the likehood of serious injury or loss of life would have been significantly higher”, warned the MAIB.
As a result of the incident, the Marine and Coastguard Agency has made fitting an insulated fire protection bulkhead between the engine compartment and accommodation space on existing DUKWs a regulatory requirement.
They have also worked with LDT to develop a ‘reference DUKW’ standard and, as a result, approved a series of design modifications and allowed the company to resume operations on the Thames.
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Motorboat & Yachting: The new East Cowes marina will be developed by a consortium of Camper & Nicholsons and Westcourt Real Estate.
A new marina is to be built in East Cowes as part of the regeneration of the Isle of Wight port town, it has been announced. The project, which is expected to create 250 jobs in the area, will be led by a consortium of Camper & Nicholsons and Westcourt Real Estate. The extra marina space has been made possible by the construction of the Cowes breakwater, the local harbour commission added.
Captain Stuart McIntosh, harbourmaster at Cowes, said: “The delivery of the Cowes Breakwater has required long-term vision and commitment from the commission and we are delighted to see that as a result, the new marina and waterfront development in East Cowes will soon become a reality.”
No specific timeframe has been set for the Victoria Marina project, but the Cowes breakwater construction will not be completed until the summer of 2015.
Paul Flatt, senior development manager at the Homes and Communities Agency, spoke highly of Camper & Nicholsons, which already runs an international network of 12 marinas: “The proposals for a new marina are bold and ambitious and we need a development partner who shares this vision and has a track record of success.
“Camper & Nicholsons’ name has a strong historic connection to the Solent area,” he added. “This is an exciting opportunity to apply their extensive international experience in marina development and operation in the UK, on one of the remaining key pieces of the regeneration of East Cowes.”
The new East Cowes marina announcement comes just a few weeks after the Solent Gateways exhibition, a £15m regeneration plan from Homes and Communities Agency, Isle of Wight Council, Red Funnel, and Southampton City Council.