‘Serious incident’ narrowly avoided as watercraft runs into fuel berth, Littlehampton Harbour confirms

File picture of Littlehampton Harbour
File picture of Littlehampton Harbour
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A potentially ‘very serious incident’ was narrowly avoided when a personal watercraft ran into Littlehampton Marina fuel berth, according to Littlehampton Harbour.

Littlehampton Harbour has confirmed that on Saturday, July 20, the personal watercraft, running at full speed, sped into and over the pontoons at the marina fuel berth.

Significant damage was caused to pontoons and to fuel vending infrastructure but luckily no one was hurt, a spokesperson from the harbour said.

According to Littlehampton Harbour, shut off valves were immediately operated by marina staff and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were called and a small amount of petrol was released into the river.

Upon request from WSFRS, the Littlehampton Harbour Board were notified and were on scene within 10 minutes with pollution containment and clean-up equipment, Littlehampton Harbour said.

Billy Johnson, harbour master, said: “This is the second potentially serious incident this summer involving personal watercraft and highlights the very real dangers involved in using powerful jet bikes on the water.

“It is vitally important that anyone thinking about getting out on the water on one of these machines gets some training, understands the local regulations and above all wears a kill cord and a buoyancy aid.”

Littlehampton Harbour Board confirmed staff were able to deploy absorbent materials and a 50 floating boom to contain and clean-up pollution and a boom remained in place overnight.

A local HM Coastguard team also attended the incident and the Environment Agency was informed by the Harbour Board.

The harbour has announced that a subsequent report has also been made by the Harbour Board to the Department for Transport, Marine accident investigation Branch (MAIB).

The Littlehampton Harbour Board maintains a stock of pollution response equipment and trains its staff in pollution response.

The Littlehampton harbour Board is due to meet on September 19 and will be able to consider whether any changes to current PWC policy in the river are needed.

Contact the Harbour Office on harbour@littlehampton.org.uk for further information on using personal watercraft in and around Littlehampton.

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