Germany’s Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation says that the capsize and sinking of the fishing vessel Ortegal Uno was caused by a ‘sequence of factors which… reveal an
insufficient culture of safety in terms of the modification, monitoring and operation of
Ortegal Uno capsized and sank in heavy weather after several large waves flooded the fish processing area, which was not fitted with appropriate drainage. There inadequate watertight integrity, which led to flooding of other areas of the vessel and a list that went from 40 degrees to 60 degrees.
Says BSU: “The intact stability of the vessel was significantly impaired as compared to the case documented in the vessel’s stability manual; notably, to the extent that the valid and according to the stability manual inspected stability rules were no longer observed. Therefore, the vessel entered poor weather with insufficient intact stability”.
The report adds: “That the upper fish processing area was not equipped with any water ports had a particularly catastrophic effect. This meant that water which entered this area was unable to clear. This ultimately triggered the accident. Wash ports are present on the approved plans of the vessel; however, they are not visible on various photos. This is a violation of the applicable safety rules according to EU Directive 97/70/EC; for if the upper fish processing area would have been regarded as closed, flooding of the area would have had to be considered when assessing stability. If it was regarded as open, it should have been equipped with wash ports… we are unable to understand how the vessel was certified as being in compliance with EU Directive 97/70/EC when the sailing permit was reissued”.
An earlier request for assistance may have saved the vessel. Say BSU investigators: “It is difficult to understand why the ship’s command did not request external assistance until 24 hours after the vessel capsized. The likelihood of salvaging the Ortegal Uno with external assistance was probably very high given that she stayed afloat for more than 30 hours and the weather was becoming increasingly calm”.