Collision between ro-ro passenger ferry Red Falcon and motor cruiser Phoenix

Accident Investigation Report 4/2019

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned and actions taken:

MAIB investigation report 4-2019: Red Falcon and Phoenix

Red Falcon vessel photo

Above image courtesy of Marine Traffic/Phil Rowley.               Motor cruiser Phoenix photo below.

Phoenix vessel photo

Location: Thorn Channel, Southampton, England.


On 29 September 2018, the UK registered roll-on roll-off passenger ferry Red Falcon and the privately-owned motor cruiser Phoenix collided in the Thorn Channel, Southampton, England. Both vessels were heading for Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The ferry was carrying 20 crew and 182 passengers, and the motor cruiser had four persons on board. Phoenix was pinned against the ferry’s bow for 18 seconds and was seriously damaged. Red Falcon was not damaged. There were no injuries and no pollution.

Safety lessons

  • The lookout on both Red Falcon and Phoenix was solely by eye
  • Red Falcon’s bridge team did not see the motor cruiser on the starboard bow due to Phoenix being obscured by the sun’s glare and window frame blind arcs
  • The effectiveness of the lookout maintained on board Red Falcon’s bridge was reduced because the master and chief officer remained seated and the bridge window sun screens were not lowered
  • Phoenix’s owner had limited knowledge of the COLREGs and local guidance, and did not check astern when entering the Thorn Channel at a shallow angle


Following the accident, an internal investigation by the Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited (Red Funnel), Red Falcon’s owner, identified several areas of navigational watchkeeping practice to be improved. In view of this action, no recommendations have been made.

Published 28 March 2019
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