‘Rogue tyre’ claim in Duckmarine sinking

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Damaged propellor on the Yellow Duckmarine © Pearlwild Limited

Damaged propellor on the Yellow Duckmarine © Pearlwild Limited

The dramatic sinking of a second Yellow Duckmarine at the weekend has been blamed on a ‘rogue tyre’ which became shredded before jamming the vehicle’s propellor.

Tour operators Pearlwild Limited have produced photographs showing the damage to its ‘Quacker 1’ vessel, stating they “strongly believe” that was the reason it went down in Salthouse Dock next to Albert Dock on Saturday, with 31 passengers on board.

Merseyside Police, along with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, are conducting a “multi-agency investigation into the full circumstances of the incident”, which led to a large-scale emergency rescue.

A public inquiry into the Yellow Duckmarine road operation will also begin on Wednesday, as the Traffic Commissioner leads a hearing that was called before Saturday’s sinking.

At the end of March, a different vessel in the four-strong Yellow Duckmarine amphibious fleet sank in the Albert Dock, though this is not the subject of today’s inquiry, as it will focus on the land-based element of the popular tourist attraction.

The Duckmarine sank in the Albert Dock. Picture © Suzanne Jones/Twitter

The Duckmarine sank in the Albert Dock. Picture © Suzanne Jones/Twitter

Quacker 1 was the same World War II-era Duckmarine which the Queen travelled on during her Diamond Jubilee visit to Liverpool last year.

A spokesman for Pearlwild Ltd said: “We have today passed photographs to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch which show a near shredded tyre wrapped around the propeller of the Quacker 1 vessel which sank on Saturday afternoon.

“We strongly believe that this rogue tyre and the resulting severe damage to the hull caused the vessel to sink and led to the successful rescue operation which ensued.

“We have spent tens of thousands of pounds enhancing the safety of our fleet during recent months to meet with the requirements of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, but the extent of the damage was such that the vessel was unable to cope with the sheer volume of water.

“We will continue to work closely with the MAIB in their investigation and fully expect that debris in the dock will form an important part of their enquiries.

Damaged tyre on the Yellow Duckmarine © Pearlwild Limited

Damaged tyre on the Yellow Duckmarine © Pearlwild Limited

“It is the first time in more than 35,000 Yellow Duckmarine tours that debris has been a problem in the dock.

“During the past 12 years approximately two million people have been passengers on our highly popular tours.

“Our company employs 35 people and since 2001 has played an important part in the success of the Liverpool tourism economy.

“We hope that the photographs we have passed to MAIB today will bring an end to some of the wild and irresponsible comments we have heard since the incident occurred on Saturday afternoon.

“We would also like to reiterate our sincere thanks to our own crew and say how proud we are of them for the brave and selfless way in which they acted, as well as the emergency services and the barge owners who helped ensure that all passengers on board were brought to safety in a calm, speedy and professional manner.”

UPDATE 21/6/13:  Yellow Duckmarine operators Pearlwild Ltd have applied to go into administration and the company has ceased trading.