A report of observations noted on a river ferry highlighting an amazing lack of awareness of self-preservation and professionalism.
What the reporter told us
I was waiting on the pontoon jetty at point A to board ‘xxx’ as a passenger for the trip to Point B. The vessel is operated by ‘yyy’ and is stated to have a carrying capacity of 250 passengers. Immediately before stepping onto the pontoon at Point A, a crew member donned an inflatable life jacket but did not buckle it. He was wearing flip flops. I think, but I am not sure, that the person wearing flip flops may have been the skipper.
The vessel subsequently berthed again at Point A, then at Point C and Point B. At these last two jetties, a different crew member donned a life jacket but did not buckle it
Non-compliance with these basic requirements gave the impression of a lack of a safety culture and a lack of supervision by the management to ensure compliance.
I would be happy for you to pass these general observations to the company and to the PLA with the suggestion that they check for themselves the standard of compliance.
What the Third Party told us
The Company in question declined to respond, however the Port of London Authority replied as follows: “We take items like this very seriously and I will be speaking to the operator about this issue. I will also bring the matter to the attention of the pier owner who has a duty under the license to protect, promote and improve on services. Not wearing appropriate footwear or a lifejacket are against any operator’s license for working from the pier.
We have made extensive efforts to improve the safety culture of older operators and this is reflected in our Code of Practice which all passenger boat operators have signed up to.
I hope that you are able to share the above and perhaps direct operators from other areas to this guidance – you will see that it is endorsed by all relevant marine bodies”.
CHIRP was disappointed not to receive a response from the operators, but the Maritime Advisory Board are pleased to support the advice given in the Port of London Authority Passenger Vessel Operations Code of Practice for the Tidal Thames and would note that much of the content is applicable both nationally and internationally with respect to safe operations.