Duckmarine sinkings: Fleet 'should not go back in the water'

People being rescued from the sinking duck marine Twenty seven people were treated in hospital
Sinking duckboat All 31 passengers were accounted for
The sinking duckboat in Liverpool's Albert Dock The incident happened just before 16:00 BST
The sinking duckboat Eyewitness Tim Olsen said it only took about four minutes to go down
The sinking duckboat This is the second sinking involving one of the vessels this year

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A fleet of amphibious vehicles should not be "allowed back in the water" after two sinkings in three months, the Mayor of Liverpool said.

Twenty seven people were treated in hospital after a Yellow Duckmarine sank in Salthouse Dock, part of Liverpool's Albert Dock complex, on Saturday.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: "I think we're really lucky no one drowned".

Operator Pearlwild Ltd said it would cooperate with an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The North West Ambulance Service said 31 people including children were on board the craft when it sank.

All passengers were accounted for, with no one suffering serious injuries during the incident.

The MCA has withdrawn MCA certification on all of the vessels.

Yellow Duckmarines

Mr Anderson said: "The city council do not have a direct role in this, but I'm not going to sit by and allow the city to be put in this type of position.

Amphibious DUKWs - or Ducks

Amphibious DUKWs
  • The DUKW - also known as a Duck - is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck first made in the US in the mid-1940s,
  • 21,000 DUKWs were produced for use during World War II to move men and materials ashore where no port facilities existed
  • Many served on D-Day and in the Normandy landings where 40% of supplies landed on the beaches were carried by DUKWs
  • DUKWs remained in service with the British and other armies into the 1970s
  • All four Duckmarine vehicles operated in Liverpool were built almost 70 years ago

Source: The Yellow Duckmarine

"We could have been staring at a situation where people lost their lives on Saturday and we can't have that again".

He said options such as new crafts to replace the old vehicles should be considered if tours were to continue.

After one of the vehicles sank in March, all four Yellow Duckmarines were stopped from going into the dock.

In May, three of the vehicles were declared safe to return to the water.

A Yellow Duckmarine spokesperson said it worked closely with the MCA to "ensure it complies with all health and safety and regulatory obligations".

It said: "Yellow Duckmarine will continue to follow all direction from and fully cooperate with the MCA.

"The matter is being investigated in the normal way as a marine accident by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), who are carrying out an exhaustive investigation and we will continue to provide every assistance to the MAIB".

The company thanked nearby canal boat owners who helped with the passenger rescue.

Standards 'not met'

Franny Joyce, regional organiser for Unite, said members had been raising serious health and safety concerns about the attraction for two years.

He said: "These craft are ex-World War II, they're far too old, and they can't afford to repair them and keep them up to the standard required.

Eyewitness Tim Olsen: "They only had seconds to get out, it went down very quickly"

"It's a matter of time before somebody is killed".

In 2012, the Queen was given a tour of the dock on one of the vehicles when she visited the region as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour.

On Wednesday, Pearlwild Ltd faces a separate investigation by the North West Traffic Commissioner amid concerns over the operation of the Duckmarines in 2012.

The public inquiry follows an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) last year which found systems to be "unsatisfactory" with minimum standards not being met.

It will examine evidence from VOSA and hear response from Pearlwild Ltd.

The BBC understands the inquiry may hear evidence from the MCA and MAIB in relation to the two sinkings this year.

The Yellow Duckmarines have carried almost 2 million passengers in Albert Dock since the tourist attraction first opened.

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