An investigation has concluded that mechanical failure within the Uriah Heep’s hydraulic circuit resulted in the Southampton-Hythe ferry crashing into the pier, destroying the wheel house

6 April 2017

Investigators from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) have praised the actions of the crew of the Uriah Heep, after it smashed into Hythe Pier while trying to berth.

The accident happened on 13 May 2016 as the Southampton-Hythe ferry was returning to the Hampshire village.

On board were 15 passengers and three crew.

The MAIB has concluded that the collision resulted from a loss of control of the ferry’s water jet propulsion system.

The impact of the crash destroyed the ferry’s wheelhouse and resulted in the vessel becoming wedged under Hythe Pier.

The Southampton-Hythe ferry after the collission

The extent of the damage. Credit: MAIB

None of the passengers were injured, and the skipper received only minor cuts and abrasions.

The accident happened almost a year after the Uriah Heep made “heavy contact” with Town Quay, Southampton while attempting to berth.

No one was injured in that incident either.

“That no passengers were injured during Uriah Heep’s collision with Hythe Pier, or at Town Quay a year earlier, supports the onboard requirement for passengers to remain seated while the ferry was underway,” said the report.

“It also reflects positively on the crews’ quick thinking to warn the passengers prior to the impacts.”

The MAIB found that both incidents were down to a mechanical failure with the hydraulic system, although the exact cause could not be identified.

It also concluded that the confined nature of the ferry’s normal berth at Hythe afforded little space in which to safely abort an approach in the event of a mechanical malfunction.

The MAIB also added that the potential for similar mechanical failures to occur in the future cannot be discounted.

Following the accident, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) withdrew Uriah Heep’s passenger safety certificate. It will take the findings of its own investigation into the Hythe Pier accident into account should an application to certify the vessel as a passenger ship be received in the future.

The ferry has been subsequently sold by its operator, White Horse Ferries Ltd.


16 May 2016

An investigation is underway by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) after the Hythe Ferry hit the pier in the town.

The vessel’s wheelhouse was extensively damaged in the accident, which left three crew members with minor injuries.

They and 15 passengers had to be rescued from the ferry following the incident on 13 May.

Hythe Ferry Ltd, which owns the vessel, says it is also carrying out its own internal investigation into what happened.

Hythe Ferry after it hit Hythe Pier

Some of the damage to the Hythe Ferry. Credit Joseph Venable/Olivia Pearce/Twitter

The ferry service, which runs between Southampton and the New Forest, has been operating for more than 100 years.

The UK Coastguard was notified of the accident at around 9.20pm. It resulted in the ferry, named as the Uriah Heep, becoming wedged underneath the pier.

Coastguard Rescue Teams from Southampton and Lymington, as well as the Calshot Lifeboat and Calshot Inshore Lifeboat were scrambled.

Hythe Ferry following the accident

The ferry following the accident. Credit: Olivia Pearce/Twitter

Southampton Vessel Traffic Services, Hampshire Police, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, together with South Central Ambulance Service were also involved in the operation to transfer passengers to shore.

None of the passengers were injured. The three crew members suffered minor head and back injuries but they didn’t require hospital treatment. They are now recovering at home.

Members of the MAIB spent 14 May examining the ferry and speaking with staff. Normal service resumed on 15 May.