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The Formal Investigation Report has now been made available on this site

From the left hand menu, click on the FI Report link


Formal Investigation under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995
Non-Statutory Inquiry into the identification of victims


On 20th August 1989 the gravel dredger BOWBELLE collided with the pleasure vessel MARCHIONESS. As a result of the collision, 51 people lost their lives.

On 14th February 2000 the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, ordered a Formal Investigation (FI) under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 into the circumstances surrounding the collision. Mr. Prescott announced the appointment of Lord Justice Clarke to act as Wreck Commissioner to the FI. Oral hearings for the Formal Investigation began on 2nd October 2000 at Westminster Central Hall. Hearings will continue until the end of November.

A Non-Statutory Inquiry into the identification of victims following major transport accidents, also chaired by Lord Justice Clarke, begins on 30 November 2000. 

To find out more about this Inquiry click (Here) 

This site has been set up to provide assistance and information to those persons interested in the MARCHIONESS/BOWBELLE Formal Investigation. By accessing the Transcripts, Statements, Chronology and Documents  sections of this website, you will be able to view the transcript of the oral hearing and all statements and documents tendered into evidence at the hearing.  The Chronology is a document prepared by the Attorney General which details the events relevant to the Formal Investigation between the years of 1973 and 20 August 1989. All these files are available in Adobe Acrobat format for downloading. The Adobe® Acrobat Reader® can be freely downloaded. (Here)

This link, contains links to the results of the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) of all aspects of domestic passenger ship safety, which the Department proposed to the MARCHIONESS/BOWBELLE Formal Investigation and which was endorsed by Lord Justice Clarke in recommendation 12 of his report.

It also contains, for each research project undertaken, MCA's synopsis of the consultants' report based on the Executive or Management Summary provided by the consultants, but including additional background and comments provided by MCA, and our response to each of the recommendations made in the report.

In the interests of transparency, the original consultants' summaries are also included.