UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) backs off prop guard statement

Cian Williams

Cian Williams

Cian Williams, then 13, was struck by a boat propeller in August 2012 in Wales. Since the strike, Cian and his mother have been among the leading propeller safety advocates in the UK. Cian has been gathering names on a petition to change Welsh law to require propeller guards on boat propellers.

In the wake Cian and his mother’s efforts, the statement by the Isle of Wight Coroner in the investigation of the Hutton fatality, the double fatality Milligan accident, the Princes Club fatality remaining in the legal news, and the re-entry of Heddon Johnson as a propeller safety advocate, considerable interest has been focused on boat propeller safety issues in the UK.

In response to a letter from Cian’s MP Elfyn Llwyd to Sir Alan Massey at Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), MCA announced that they were going to:

“look at different ways of guarding the propeller.”

Now, months later, after things have cooled off a bit, MCA has changed their tune.

MCA’s softened stance is revealed in an interview published in the 26 December 2013 Daily Post in the article titled Cian Williams, Boat Propellers Must be Fitted with Guards.

An MCA spokesperson now says,

“Safety is our main priority. We encourage people to have fun, but also to take personal responsibility for their safety. We have been working with our partners – such as the RNLI and Royal Yachting Association – to explore the possibility of using propeller guards on speed boats, but, in most cases, this would be counter-productive, causing other safety issues such as problems with manoeuvrability.” … “There are better ways of ensuring safety, including better training of skippers, awareness of swimmers, and use of kill cords. We don’t propose to make propeller guards mandatory.”

Cian Williams is understandably upset with the MCA’s reversal on this issue.


  1. but we shant give up

    • For those who might not recognize the name, the previous “but we shant give up” post is from Cian’s mother.

      We really appreciate all she and Cian have done to bring propeller safety issues to the fore front in Wales and in the UK.


  2. Not being funny, I’m staff at a yacht club and our ribs are not fitted with propguards but I have to get to casualties quickly and get them to safety quickly so always advised against them so has my boss, and I always kill the engine near people in water unless it is navigationally dangerous to do so, I know they use propguards in the navy and sea cadets as im a volunteer with the sea cadets as units boats officer, our units rib drinks the fuel because of the propguard also causes a lot more vibration and acts as a rudder affecting manevourability and this is from personal experience plus they slow the boat down by as much as 10-15%, a propguard can act like a mincer if you get your arm/leg trapped in it but with an unguarded prop all you get is a laceration, propguards are far more dangerous than unguarded props. all people need is proper training and use of kill cords.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences and comments.

      In instances in which you are considering a guard on a small RIB, but are concerned about drag and/or handling issues, and are willing to forego protection from the rear, you might consider the Prop Deflector from the UK.

Leave a Reply