Two seafarers died of carbon monoxide poisoning whilst asleep on a fishing vessel in Whitby, which demonstrates that lessons over several years, warnings and alerts have had little impact. Poorly maintained equipment being used for purposes for which they were not designed. refusal to use alarms that save lives, on vessel not designed for people to sleep in lead to tragedy.
In the case of scallop-dredger Eshcol the two seafarers went to sleep tired and cold. doors and windows were closed. Heaters on the vessel did not work so to keep warm the seafarers lit the grill on the vessel’s four-year old cooker which had probably never been serviced. Neither the guidance for the installation of gas appliances on board small fishing vessels nor the cooker manufacturer’s instructions had been followed when the cooker was fitted. The metal gauze in the grill was holed and corroded, causing extraordinarily high levels of CO emissions.
Tests showed that when the grill was lit the resulting flames were predominantly yellow, indicating inefficient combustion. The grill was turned off following the activation of a personal gas detector which indicated that high levels of carbon monoxide were being emitted. Close inspection of the grill showed that the grill’s steel mesh was corroded and holed in several places