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In September '17, the 9.9m fishing-vessel Solstice capsized in calm weather conditions, south of Plymouth. The skipper and crewman were rescued 5½ hours later but the owner was trapped and drowned in the wheelhouse. Solstice later sank.

The scallop dredger had recently been modified to operate as a stern trawler and was hauling a heavy catch on board when the capsize occurred. The crew did not have time to raise the alarm. As the vessel was not equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and the crew did not carry Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), they were wholly reliant on family and friends realising they were overdue and alerting the coastguard.

Safety lessons

Vessel owners should always ensure that stability assessments are carried out before and after any modifications are undertaken. Action should be taken to reduce excessive loads being lifted on board.

The Coastguard says; "Take the search out of search-and-rescue; fit an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and carry an EPIRB and/or PLBs. They can be life savers. Personal flotation devices should always be worn when working on deck and lifejackets should be worn or readily-available.

photo credit MAIB investigation report

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