Safety on Board

Date published: 
13 December 2013

On 29 September 28 passengers had to evacuate from the amphibious dukw Cleopatra when a fire took hold on the Thames between Westminster and Lambeth bridges. Following the fire dukws were withdrawn from service on the river.

The Thames Passenger Boat Investigation Committee report Safety on Board praises the coordinated work of the rescue services and other Thames river craft operators in responding to the incident and ensuring there were no serious injuries.

The Committee is keen to see London Duck Tours resume a full and safe service as part of the diversity of tourist activities on the Thames that add to London’s appeal as a destination. The report recommends a number of measures to review and refresh safety on the river.


The Committee commends the work of the emergency services in responding to the incident promptly and effectively, and recommends that the Mayor and the London Resilience Forum reassure themselves that adequate co-ordination is maintained across all emergency services in London in the event of a serious incident involving river craft.

London Duck Tours should consider whether there is a case for passengers to wear life jackets as a matter of course on the water part of the tour.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency and London Duck Tours should reassure themselves that crews on these vehicles are proficient in evacuation procedures and are regularly tested on how they manage an evacuation.

London Duck Tours should review whether its employees are using correctly pan-pan, mayday and other distress calls and whether further training is required on this matter.

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