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Skipper fined after Duck Tours collision

The skipper of a Duck Tours amphibious vehicle has been successfully prosecuted at Horseferry Road Magistrate Court following a collision on the Thames near Westminster Bridge.

Skipper Brian Gould pleaded guilty to one charge brought under Section 58, of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 brought by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. This section deals with conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals.

Mr Gould was fined 500 and ordered to pay 1,000 in costs.

The amphibious vehicle 'Titania' was between Westminster and Lambeth Bridges and was returning to its drop off point. Another amphibious vehicle, the 'Desdemona', which was skippered by Mr Gould, was travelling in the opposite direction.

Gould decided not to take her under Westminster Bridge as normal. He crossed over to the Parliament side of the river and proceeded to catch up with the 'Titania'. Gould then brought the 'Desdemona' alongside the 'Titania' and was running parallel to her. The distance apart varied between 3 metres and less than a metre. The 'Titania' was on the inside of the 'Desdemona' about one boat's lengths away from the embankment wall.

A high tide, strong wind and close proximity of the embankment wall resulted in a hazardous situation and after a short period, a collision occurred between the two vessels, which narrowly missed a child.

One eyewitness, an off duty police officer who was escorting a group of children on the 'Titania', reported the incident to the Orpington Marine Office of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The District Judge Mr Q Purdy said to Mr Gould in Court this morning: "You were running far too close for far too long when, with your experience, you should have known that this could cause a collision."

Bryan Hopkins, Surveyor in charge of Orpington Marine Office MCA said "The skipper of a passenger carrying vessel should at all time keep in mind that they are always responsible for the safety of their passengers and crew. They should never put themselves in a position, especially in a tideway such as the Thames, which may result in risk to others."

London Duck Tours depart from Chicheley Street behind the London Eye.

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