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MAIB Safety Bulletins

MAIB Safety Bulletins are released by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and we repost bulletins which we think are relevant to our harbour users. The bulletins are provided on our website under the Government Open Government Licence v3.0


Louisa, a creel vessel fitted with a vivier system for maintaining the catch alive, foundered with the loss of three lives while anchored close to the shore in Mingulay Bay in the Outer Hebrides.

The skipper and his three crew had been working long hours, and had anchored the vessel at approximately 2230 to enable them to rest. Having all gone to bed, they were woken suddenly in the early hours of the following morning, 9 April, with the vessel significantly down by the head and apparently sinking. They were able to escape to the aft deck, don lifejackets and activate an EPIRB before abandoning the vessel, but were unable to inflate the liferaft.

One crewman managed to swim ashore and survive. However, the rescue services found the skipper and the two remaining crew unresponsive and face down in the water. The skipper was lost during recovery and remains missing. The two crew were later declared deceased caused by drowning.


At approximately 0500 on 16 August 2016, a fire started in the crew mess room of the fishing vessel Ardent II while alongside in Peterhead. The three crew sleeping on board escaped without injury but the vessel was extensively damaged.
On 11 August, Ardent II returned from fishing and moored in Peterhead harbour. The vessel’s machinery was shut down and shore power was connected, enabling three of the crew to live on board while the vessel was in port.
The vessel was scheduled to conduct guardship duties the following week so the crew prepared for the inspection that was to be conducted prior to putting to sea. On 15 August, various contractors were on board conducting repairs and inspections. The vessel’s engineer was also on board working in the engine room.
By 1800, the contractors had all left and the three crew who lived on board cooked their dinner using a rice cooker in the crew mess room and a small oven in the galley. By 2345, all three crew were in bed, with the engineer still working in the engine room. He finished work and went home at approximately 0230, locking the door from the wheelhouse onto the upper deck as he left. All other doors and hatches were secured from the inside to prevent intruders.
At about 0515, one of the crew exited the accommodation and entered the crew mess room on his way to the toilet/washroom. He immediately became aware of the presence of black smoke and a smell of burning plastic. He alerted the other two crew, who then exited the accommodation into the crew mess room, unfastened the watertight door and passed through the doorway into the aft net drum space and then onto the quay. The crewman who had raised the alarm entered the wheelhouse, opened the wheelhouse door window, unlocked the padlock using a key from his pocket, opened the door, and passed onto the upper deck and then onto the quay.
At 0537, the emergency services were called after the three crew, who had escaped with none of their possessions, alerted the crew of a nearby fishing boat. Flames were seen emitting from the watertight doorway between the crew mess room and the aft net drum space. At 0546, the first fire appliance was on scene and the fire service continued to tackle the blaze until the following day. By this time, the vessel was extensively damaged and was later declared a constructive total loss.

On 3 August 2016, the 19m twin rig trawler Sea Harvester came ‘fast’ on a seabed obstruction while trawling for prawns in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. During the attempt to retrieve the snagged fishing gear onto the net drum, the tension in one of the bridles, in conjunction with the vessel’s motion in the moderate seas, bent a guiding-on pole on the stern bulwarks and forced it from its socket. The pole struck a deckhand on the side of his head and knocked him unconscious. The deckhand was transferred to hospital by helicopter.
He suffered serious, life-changing injuries and will require medical care for the foreseeable future.


At 1833 on 2 September 2016, the crewman on board the fishing vessel Pauline Mary was dragged overboard after becoming entangled in the gear while shooting pots at fishing grounds about 1 mile east of Hartlepool. Once in the water, the crewman was pulled under by the weight of the pots. The skipper immediately stopped the vessel and used its hauler to recover the crewman back alongside. With the crewman motionless in the water and his head submerged, the skipper tried to free him by cutting the back rope. This was unsuccessful and the crewman was pulled back under water for a second time. The crewman was recovered back on board about 20 minutes later; he was not breathing and, despite the efforts of Pauline Mary’s skipper and the emergency services, could not be resuscitated.

The skipper and the crewman were brothers and were experienced fishermen. However, they had been working Pauline Mary for only 2 days and were laying their pots for the first time when the accident happened. The skipper’s 7-year-old son and a female family friend were also on board at the time.

In order to save time during the initial pot laying process, the skipper loaded two strings of 30 pots on board each time he travelled to the fishing grounds. In order to do this, the pots were stacked high on the deck and on the vessel’s steel stern rack. Similarly, the skipper took his son and his friend to sea during the commercial potting operation because he intended to take advantage of the good weather to enjoy a bit of recreational sea angling once the pots had been laid.

The investigation identified that Pauline Mary had been heavily loaded with pots and a safe method of shooting them had not been developed. Also, the crewman was not carrying a knife or wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) while working on deck, both of which could have improved his chances of survival. It was also not appropriate for the passengers, in particular a child, to be on board during commercial fishing operations.


On 4 October 2015, at about 1320, a crewman from the 9.15m long creel fishing vessel Annie T, was carried overboard by the fishing gear when his foot became caught in a bight of rope. He was not wearing a lifejacket when he fell through the shooting hatch at the aft of the vessel. At the time of the accident, the vessel was in the sound of Mingulay, at the southern edge of the Western Isles of Scotland.

The skipper was able to manoeuvre Annie T back to the crewman in the water and attempted to hoist him on board with the hauler. Unfortunately, the crewman was unable to hold onto the rope and fell back into the water. About 2 minutes later the skipper saw him floating face down in the water some metres away and on this occasion was able to recover him back on board using the hauler. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the skipper and the attending lifeboat and helicopter crews, the crewman could not be revived. The postmortem report stated that the crewman might have suffered a cardiac arrest

The MAIB investigation revealed the following:

    1. Working practices on board Annie T required a crewman to physically lift the end weight on the back rope and carry it aft to the shooting hatch in order to prevent the weight from damaging the vessel during shooting operations.
    1. The skipper and the crew members of Annie T never wore lifejackets.
  1. Three working lifejackets that had been supplied to Annie T’s crew free of charge by the Scottish Fishing Federation were still in their original packaging and had never been used.


On 6 April 2016, the UK registered fishing vessel Fredwood flooded and sank on a drying berth in Maryport, England. When Fredwood took the ground, it listed away from the quay wall and the weight of the vessel came to rest on a sonar tube that protruded from the bottom of the hull. The tube was pushed upwards and the hull planking around it was damaged. This caused the vessel to flood on the rising tide. All of the crew were rescued by local fire service personnel and there were no injuries or pollution. However, the vessel was declared a constructive total loss.

The resulting MAIB investigation found that the mooring arrangement, mooring line monitoring and emergency response on board Fredwood were inadequate


At 1424 on 28 April 2016, the 11.6 metre potter Harvester grounded on rocks in Abereiddy Bay, North Pembrokeshire, and foundered a short time later. There was no indication of any crew on board at the time of the grounding. A large-scale search and rescue operation commenced and the body of one crew member was recovered from the water 3 miles from where Harvester had foundered. He was not wearing a lifejacket or other buoyancy aid. The second crew member has not been found despite an extensive search.

Harvester had been fishing grounds to the west of Ramsey Island and it is probable that an accident occurred while shooting a fleet of pots earlier in the day. It is also likely that whatever occurred caused the two crew members to go overboard in quick succession, as the engine remained in gear and no alarm was raised from the vessel.

A likely scenario is that a crew member working on deck became entangled in the back rope as a fleet was being shot. The other crew member could then have gone to his assistance, resulting in both men going overboard through the large opening  in the transom.

Beryl: fatal man overboard on 10 February 2015

At about 0910 on 10 February 2015, a deckhand on the 28m twin rig trawler Beryl was carried overboard by the vessel’s port trawl net.

The net was being shot away through the stern ‘shooting doors’ when it snagged. To free the net, the deckhand stood on the net to release a float caught on lashings inside the net track. The vessel was underway before rough seas and the net was under significant load.

Without warning, the net suddenly released and quickly streamed astern carrying the deckhand with it. The deckhand was carried through the port ‘shooting door’ and into the sea. He was conscious and managed to hold onto the net. The deckhand’s lifejacket inflated and Beryl’s crew spent almost 50 minutes trying to recover him back on board; they were unsuccessful. The crewman was eventually recovered by a rescue craft launched from an offshore support vessel. He was transferred to a rescue helicopter and flown to hospital but he did not survive.

The MAIB’s investigation found that Beryl’s crew had discussed the hazard of jammed and tangled equipment with a Scottish Fishermen’s Federation representative during an ‘onboard support scheme’ visit. The resulting risk assessment for this hazard was recorded under ‘Abnormal conditions’ and the safety measure agreed with the crew was:

‘The crew MUST stand back until the skipper assesses the situation and gives instructions’.

Fishing vessel Stella Maris, capsize and sinking, 28 July 2014


At around 0910 BST on 28 July 2014 the 9.9m trawler Stella Maris capsized and sank while attempting to lift a heavy cod end of fish and debris. The two crew successfully abandoned the boat without injury and were rescued about 7 hours later from their liferaft.

The investigation found that Stella Maris capsized as a result of insufficient stability due to an overweight cod end being lifted from a high ‘A’ frame gantry by an excessively powerful gilson winch.


On 4 October 2015, the 16.35m wooden twin-rig prawn trawler Karinya, FR699, was fishing in theMoray Firth. Onboard were the vessel’s owner/skipper and four crew. At 1305, during shootingoperations, the skipper, who was aftof the wheelhouse at the winch controls, smelled burningwhich he assumed was coming from the engine room. Heentered the wheelhouse, heard the fire alarm sounding, and decided to proceed to the engine room to investigate. As hebegan descending the internal stairway, he saw thick smoke coming out of the open doorway at the topof thestairwell leading down to the cabin. He could not get close enough to the door to close it.He shouted to the fourcrew, who were on the aft deck, to collect their lifejackets and to close the doors. The crew were unable to collecttheir abandon ship lifejackets that were stowed in theburning cabin, so instead donned inflatable lifejackets that werestored in a locker on the aft deck.All five then mustered, deployed a liferaft and abandoned the vessel. The crew were rescuedsoon afterwards by another fishing vessel that was nearby. Karinya became overwhelmed by the fire and subsequentlyfoundered at 2104.
The fire almost certainly started in the cabin. Smoke then spread quickly, forcing the crew toevacuate the vessel rather than toattempt to fight the fire. The fire’s ignition source has not been determined, but it is probable that the fire was caused by a poorly discarded cigaretteend that was not fully extinguished.


During the afternoon of 9 July 2015, routine contact was lost with the skipper and crewman on board the 11.4mscallop dredger JMT that was fishing off Plymouth, UK. A search and rescue operation was initiated the followingmorning when the vessel did not return alongside as expected. The body of the crewman was found floating in alife-ring; he was not wearing a lifejacket. The wreck of the vessel was located 3.8 miles off Rame Head and waslater recovered. The skipper was not found.


A 5m speedboat was launched at a public slipway with the intention of taking a short trip in the bay. The experienced speedboat driver had three children with him.

The weather was overcast and the wind was forecast to be force 4-5 with 1m high significant waves, but at the time of launching there were no white horses visible outside the harbour. The four occupants were wearing wetsuits and buoyancy aids.

The speedboat was motored slowly out of the harbour and was travelling in convoy with two jet skis. Once clear of the harbour, all three craft increased speed, the driver of the speedboat applying almost full throttle to get the boat up onto the plane.

Shortly afterwards, the speedboat hit a large unexpected wave and the boat capsized, initially settling upside down. Three of the occupants managed to get clear, but the boat’s stern then sank under the weight of the outboard engine, leaving the bow protruding out of the water. It was apparent that one of the children was somehow caught on the boat under water.

The jet ski riders, who had quickly arrived on scene, and the others in the water tried repeatedly to swim down and release the trapped child, but they were unsuccessful.

The emergency services were alerted by a member of the public and the local lifeboat was paged. Just as one of the jet ski riders arrived back ashore to raise the alarm, the lifeboat was launched. Once on scene, it lifted the speedboat by the bow, enabling the trapped child to be released. First-aid was commenced immediately, and the child was transferred quickly to a waiting ambulance ashore, but sadly never recovered consciousness.