Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, has commended Peter Laity, the skipper of a gill netter, Ocean Spray, for his actions in saving an MOB in December 2009. In an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail the overboard seafarer says: “I saw the net had started to go into a ball over the stern, I looked back at the boat to see if it was all okay, and took my eyes off the anchor for two seconds and that was all it took.”
Says MAIB: “The gill netter Ocean Spray was shooting the last of her ten nets when a problem with the fishing gear was seen by the deckhand on the port side of the working deck. To rectify the problem, the deckhand moved aft into the area containing the rope joining the net to its anchor, and became snagged by the rope as it payed out. He was pulled towards the vessel’s port gunwale until pinned against the safety rail by the net’s anchor.
The skipper immediately throttled back the engine, at which point the deckhand was catapulted overboard, along with the anchor. The deckhand was dragged underwater where, although injured, he managed to free himself from the anchor and rope, and surface close to the vessel. The skipper and the other deckhand then pulled him back on board, aided by the rolling of the vessel.
The vessel immediately headed for Newlyn, where the skipper had arranged for an ambulance to meet on arrival by dialing the emergency services from his mobile telephone. The coastguard was made aware of the accident by the ambulance controller, and the Penzance lifeboat was activated. The lifeboat escorted Ocean Spray into Newlyn where the injured deckhand was transferred to an ambulance and taken to Treliske hospital in Truro.
The Deputy Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the owner/skipper commending him for his actions in recovering his deckhand back on board. He has also advised that he consider how this accident could have been prevented, and how to improve the chances of a person falling overboard surviving such an ordeal, taking into account the safety issues identified.
A preliminary report was issued on 20 January.