Duckmarine operators say 'rogue tyre' caused sinking

Tyre and duckmarine Photos sent to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) by the Yellow Duckmarine operators show a tyre on the propeller of the vessel

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A dumped tyre may have caused the sinking of an amphibious vehicle in Liverpool's Albert Dock complex, the attraction's operator has said.

Twenty seven people were treated in hospital after a Yellow Duckmarine sank in Salthouse Dock on Saturday.

Pearlwild Limited said it believed the debris in the water resulted in "severe damage to the hull" of the vessel.

Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and coastguard officials are investigating.

Thirty one people, including children, were on board the craft when it sank. No one suffered serious injuries.

The MCA has withdrawn MCA certification on all of the vessels.

'Debris in dock'

A Pearlwild Limited spokesman said photographs showing a near-shredded tyre wrapped around the propeller have been passed to the MAIB.

He said: "We have spent tens of thousands of pounds enhancing the safety of our fleet during recent months to meet with the requirements of the MCA, but the extent of the damage was such that the vessel was unable to cope with the sheer volume of water.

The sinking duckboat This is the second sinking involving one of the vessels this year

"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."

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

Ramandeep Mann, from Coventry, was on board the vehicle.

She said: "You could tell there was something wasn't right, they were trying to fiddle with the gearsticks and you heard the tour guide saying something like 'this doesn't sound healthy'.

"The next minute there was someone screaming from the back that there was water coming in. I just sat there and thought, this can't be happening to us."

'I can't swim'

Mitul Patni, from Leicester, said he could not inflate his life jacket in time.

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

He said: "When the life jacket didn't inflate, I started to panic, thinking, 'oh my God, I think I'm going to die here. I can't swim', so I was just so scared."

Speaking on Monday, the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the fleet of DUKW vehicles should "not be allowed back in the water".

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. Three vehicles were declared safe to return to the water two months later.

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

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