MAIB Vector report hints at Southampton speed limit

The MAIB report on the Vector raceboat crash reveals that ABP is looking into the possibility of a Southampton speed limit

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its report on the accident off Hamble Point on May 13 2015 that saw a Vector V40R raceboat crash into a marker buoy.

The accident happened at the end of a seven-minute test run to determine the state of the V40R’s twin Ilmor V10 engines, which had recently been overhauled and refitted.

The report uses data recovered from the V40R’s GPS to determine that the vessel reached a top speed of 87 knots (100mph) during the test run and was travelling at 80 knots when the accident happened.

At the moment, there is no speed limit on Southampton Water south of the imaginary line between Hythe Pier and the Western Shelf buoy.

However, harbour authority Associated British Ports Southampton recommends that vessels do not exceed 40 knots and had made such a recommendation to the owner of a local powerboat on the day prior to the crash.

According to the report, the Vector crew made no contact with the harbour authority to notify them of their intention of travelling in excess of 40 knots, nor did they complete a risk assessment.

Vector powerboat flip near Hamble PointHad they done so it is highly likely that they would have been advised against travelling at such high speeds in a busy area.

Enforcing a speed limit on Southampton Water is not currently within ABP Southampton’s existing statutory powers, however the MAIB report concludes:

“Had there been an enforceable speed limit for the area where the accident occurred, the likelihood of this accident occurring would have been reduced.”

Furthermore it reveals that ABP Southampton “has commenced the legal process to obtain statutory powers […] to regulate speed limits”, thus raising the prospect of a Southampton speed limit being introduced in the future.

Southampton Harbourmaster Martin Phipps said: “We are pleased with the MAIB’s conclusion that people intending to undertake high speed manoeuvres or any activity that could impact other harbour users should risk assess that activity and notify the Harbour Authority.

“The Port of Southampton Notice to Mariners number 57 of 2015, titled Safe Speed Within the Port of Southampton Statutory Area, gives guidance on how to undertake this type of activity safely and how to complete the necessary risk assessments.”

Fishing pot fright

The cause of the accident was found to be an improperly marked fishing pot, which skipper Peter Dredge mistook for a diver’s marker.

Improperly marked fishing potIn order to avoid the floating object (pictured right), Peter, who was working both the wheel and the throttle, eased off and turned hard to starboard, a manoevre that resulted in the hull hooking to port.

This sent the V40R into a roll, striking the Hamble Point marker before coming to a complete stop with the hull inverted.

The report quotes a 2014 notice to mariners from the port authority, which requires all fishing gear to be marked with an identifying flag.

ABP Southampton had previously removed improperly marked fishing pots from the water, but stopped when it was advised that such action was beyond its legislative remit.

The MAIB concludes: “This accident might have been avoided had the harbour authority’s requirements for the laying and marking of fishing gear in Southampton Water been complied with.”

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