Know your liferaft – when the beam trawler Betty G capsized on 23 July 2012 the three crew took to the vessel’s liferaft and looked for a knife to cut the painter. They couldn’t find it and one crew member had to go back aboard the trawler to find one. Due to their unfamiliarity with the liferaft they did not know that a knife was secured in a black pocket on the roof of the raft.
A newly-released report from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, says the vessel capsized as a result of the load in the starboard trawl net releasing suddenly. Betty G then progressively flooded and sank. The crew acted swiftly and deployed the liferaft, which ultimately saved their lives. No distress message was transmitted and no alarm was raised, even though the vessel was fitted with an emergency position indicating radio beacon, EPIRB, and an MOB Guardian.
As in other cases, the EPIRB was kept in the wheelhouse and could not float free. To maximise effectiveness, an EPIRB should be registered, regularly checked and serviced, and fitted in a float-free canister with a hydrostatic release.