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Chronology

 

This  Chronology has been produced by the Attorney General to assist the Formal Investigation. The Chronology details the events relevant to the Formal Investigation which occurred between 1973 and 20 August 1989.

The Chronology refers to a series of documents. You are able to view the Chronology and the documents referred to by downloading  the Adobe® Acrobat Reader®, which can be freely downloaded by clicking here. In order to view a document referred to, simply double-click on the document reference number.

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      ANNEX C Chronology (182.58KB.pdf)      Starting 20th August 1989

“MARCHIONESS”

Sinking in the River Thames on 20th August 1989

CHRONOLOGY

Served on behalf of the Attorney General

Notes:

1                This is Revision 2 of the Chronology served on behalf of the Attorney General.  Changes from Revision 1 are underlined.

2                Revision 2 includes references to the relevant pages in the chronological bundles (prefix CHR).  The chronological bundles will contain the documents to which reference is made in this chronology.

3                The reference to SCS’s draft standing orders which was previously included as “approximately July 1989” has been removed having regard to the reference on the 2nd page of the document to the talkback system which is believed to have been fitted after the collision.

4                The chronology covers events up to the time of the collision.  The search and rescue chronology will cover the search and rescue operation.

5                References in the chronology to stability and subdivision are included for the sake of completeness and by way of historical background.

6                Verbatim extracts from relevant documents are included in this chronology.  Such extracts may not be complete and are included solely for ease of reference.  “[  ]” denotes that a word or phrase is illegible. 

7                References to “Dept” are to the Government Department with responsibility for shipping matters at any particular time, namely the Board of Trade (which became the Department of Trade and Industry) and the Department of Transport (which became the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions).

8                Where entries in the chronology do not refer to a named vessel, they are to be taken as referring to MARCHIONESS unless the context indicates otherwise.

 9                All vessel names in the chronology are given in upper case.

 10            Document reference numbers in the chronology are to the ‘Concordance’ number appearing on the face of the document as circulated to all parties during the discovery process. Where a document has been included in the chronology bundle, the page reference for that bundle is also given (prefixed by CHR).

 11            The following abbreviations are used in the chronology in connection with Dept and Port of London Authority personnel:

 AHM (MS)           Assistant Harbour Master (Marine Safety)

CNS              Chief Nautical Surveyor

CSS              Chief Ship Surveyor

DCS              Deputy Chief Surveyor

DCSS            Deputy Chief Ship Surveyor

DSG              Deputy Surveyor General

ESC              Engineer Surveyor-in-Chief

MD                Marine Directorate

MO               Marine Office

MSO             Marine Survey Office

PLA              Port of London Authority

PNS              Principal Nautical Surveyor

PO                Principal Officer

SES              Senior Engineer Surveyor

SNS              Senior Nautical Surveyor

SSS              Senior Ship Surveyor   

12            The roles of the various classes of Dept surveyor and the structure of the Dept are addressed in the statements obtained by the Attorney General from former Dept surveyors.

13            A summary chronology of events is set out below.

 Summary Chronology

 1923

MARCHIONESS built with enclosed lower saloon, otherwise open deck

6.12.73

Letter from Chief Inspector Turner re passenger vessels and public safety

26.3.74

Hughes minute re need for all round visibility on passenger vessels

4.74

Meeting at DOT Marine Office with passenger vessel operators

5.74

Issue of Merchant Shipping Notice No 685 re all round visibility

1978/9

British Dredging standing orders issued

1.79

South Coast Shipping standing orders issued

3.79

MARCHIONESS 1st stage conversion - wheelhouse moved forward and enclosed; main deck enclosed to form ‘disco/reception’ deck

1.80

MARCHIONESS 2nd stage conversion – upper deck enclosed to form ‘bar’ deck

2.81

MARCHIONSS 3rd stage conversion – after deck enclosed to form ‘beer store’

3.7.81

Collision between BOWTRADER and PRIDE OF GREENWICH at Cannon Street Bridge

26.8.81

Gunner minute re MARCHIONESS stern visibility from wheelhouse and means of escape

28.9.81

Khan minute re MARCHIONESS stern visibility from wheelhouse and means of escape

30.9.81

Hughes minute re MARCHIONESS stern visibility from wheelhouse

18.10.81

Collision between BOWTRADER and HURLINGHAM at Tower Bridge

2.11.81

Amendment No. 1 to British Dredging Standing Orders re need for extreme caution under bridges

11.11.81

De Coverley minute re BOWTRADER / HURLINGHAM collision and urgent need to determine extent of visibility problems on passenger vessels

13.11.81

Shone minute re stern visibility from passenger vessels

19.11.81

Gilbert minute re stern visibility from passenger vessels

27.11.81

P Butcher memo to masters re absolute necessity of strict observance of the Company’s Standing Orders

2.12.81

G W Thompson minute re stern visibility from passenger vessels

14.4.82

Meeting of Commercial River Users at London Dock House re navigation in upper river

19.4.82

P Butcher letter to PLA reiterating extreme concern at possibility of major incident occurring between BOW ships and the pleasure craft and seeking hampered vessel status

26.5.82

Contact between BOWBELLE and scaffolding on Cannon Street Bridge

2.6.82

P Butcher letter to PLA re need for rapid action

5.6.82

Near collision between BOWBELLE and passenger launch ELTHAM at Southwark Bridge.

9.6.82

P Butcher letter to PLA re risk of major disaster

23.6.82

First meeting of River Users Liaison group

3.8.82

Meeting of river users at which concern expressed by P Butcher re possibility of major incident

8.6.83

Collision between SHELL DISTRIBUTOR and NEW SOUTHERN BELLE at King’s Reach

9.6.83

Collision between BOWBELLE and PRIDE OF GREENWICH at Charing Cross Bridge

13.6.83

Internal PLA memo re incompatibility between mode of operation of passenger and commercial vessels and need for communications between forecastle and bridge on commercial vessels

16.6.83

McGaw minute re risk of fatal accident unless requirement for good all round visibility made and enforced

24.6.83

Informal meeting held at M O London District Office re safety of navigation on Thames

6.7.83

De Coverley minute re risk of very serious accident

 

12.7.83

Vale minute re need for two man bridge watch on passenger vessels

13.7.83

Bason letter to PLA re extreme concern about potentially dangerous situation

22.7.83

List of river craft inspected for visibility from the wheelhouse and found to be unsatisfactory

6.9.83

Creber letter re meeting to discuss measures to avoid collisions

27.9.83

Meeting at Companies House with passenger boat operators re need for positive action to avoid collision with attendant loss of life

11.10.83

Creber minute of meeting at Companies House on 27.9.83

25.10.83

Meeting at International House with commercial vessel operators – “not a case of IF a serious incident occurs but WHEN”

10.83

Department of Transport Report re recent collisions and potential for major calamity

14.11.83

P Butcher letter to Masters re continued need to exercise extreme caution

10.2.84

J A Clifford letter to Tidal Cruisers re need to fit side platforms to MARCHIONESS and requirement for additional crew member to maintain all round look-out

3.84

Modifications to MARCHIONESS as per above

1.5.84

Meeting at Westminster Pier with skippers of passenger vessels to prevent further accidents which could lead to loss of life

11.5.84

P Butcher memorandum to Masters re necessity of increased vigilance when navigating through the bridges and requirement to maintain good lookout during passage with full use of hand held VHF

25.5.84

P Butcher letter to PLA re continued possibility of serious accident occurring

4.6.84

PLA Notice to Mariners advising vessels less than 40 metres in length not to impede passage of vessels more than 40 metres in length

25.6.84

Holstead minute suggesting MD Memorandum re wheelhouse visibility

29.6.84

Tidal Cruisers letter agreeing to detail crew member to keep lookout whilst HURLINGHAM under way

16.10.84

Clipsham minute re need to fit hatch in wheelhouse of MARCHIONESS

23.10.84

Ludgrove letter agreeing to detail crew member to maintain proper all round lookout at all relevant times whilst VISCOUNTESS under way.

26.2.85

Tidal Cruises letter confirming crewman on HURLINGHAM other than the person at the central position to be detailed to keep lookout whilst underway

7.86

Issue of Merchant Shipping Notice M1188 re Good Ship Management

1.87

South Coast Shipping awarded RMC Group Safety Certificate

8.87

Revised standing orders issued by ECA

5.11.87

Collision between BOWBELLE and BOWSPRITE at Tower Bridge

10.11.87

D Henderson employed by South Coast Shipping as second Mate on BOWSPRITE

3.2.88

Dept approves amendment to byelaw 19 requiring vessels less than 40 metres in length not to impede passage of vessels more than 40 metres in length

25.2.88

Nicholls letter to Tidal Cruises Ltd re means of escape on MARCHIONESS

2.88

South Coast Shipping awarded RMC Group Safety Award

2.3.88

Samuel memo to all staff at South Coast Shipping re safety to remain a priority

1.6.88

East Coast Aggregates merges with South Coast Shipping

5.7.88

BOWBELLE Safety Committee Meeting reports on need for new communication system for contact with Forecastle

1.10.88

D Henderson obtains Pilotage Exemption Certificate:

20.10.88

Mcclymont minute conveying ministerial concern re inspection regime and safety equipment on Class V passenger vessels on Thames

20.10.88

D Henderson commences series of trips as supply/extra Mate for South Coast Shipping

8.12.88

Importance of regular safety meetings of South Coast Shipping crew emphasised at Masters’ meeting

12.12.88

Report re need for forecastle talkback system on BOWBELLE with calling facility to Bridge

1.89

BOWBELLE dry docked at Sunderland for repair / maintenance work

25.1.89

D Henderson obtains Master’s ticket

16.4.89

D Henderson commences tour of duty on BOWBELLE as Trainee Master.

3.5.89

D Henderson commences tour of duty BOWBELLE as Master.

2.8.89

SCS Memorandum from R Samuel to Departmental Heads and F Darwell re need for SCS to comply with M 1188 (good ship management)

20.8.89

Collision between BOWBELLE and MARCHIONESS at 0146 with 81 survivors and 51 dead



 

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