I (and my wife) take a keen interest in activities on the river.
One of the features that has captured our interest was the large number of evening cruise/party boats on the river. Most of these boats were brilliantly lit overall with coloured lights from stem to stern appropriate to their role. However it struck me that since these bright illuminations were invariably carried right forward to the very prow in the majority of the craft, this must have a severe effect on the night vision of the Bridge/Wheelhouse personnel and their ability to maintain a good lookout for other vessels. One of the bete noir’s of my time at sea was enforcing ‘Darken Ship’ regulations for maintaining the night vision of Bridge staff and other purposes.
After a tragic incident on the Thames the aspect of maintaining an effective lookout was a crucial feature of the Inquiry into this accident and it immediately occurred to me that this aspect of bright lighting FORWARD of the Conning/Steering Position was one which the appropriate Regulatory Authorities should address.
To my knowledge, all such passenger craft undergo regular and stringent safety inspections and it would be comparatively simple for inspectors to ensure that inappropriately sited ‘Party Lights’ did not detract from a effective lookout by Bridge personnel and the safe navigation of the craft.
I believe that this situation is ‘another accident waiting to happen’ and that action should be taken to ensure that ‘Party Lights’ are not permitted forward of the conning position, to the detriment to an effective lookout and the safe navigation of the vessel.
CHIRP relayed this concern to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The Agency was about to go out to tender on a safety study on this type of vessel which included wheelhouse visibility. Thanks to this report an assessment of wheelhouse visibility with “party lights” switched on was given additional emphasis in the study.