Sep 242010

Victim's position

Marijus Rudakov fell overboard from the FV Alma Amy and drowned. He was not wearing a life jacket.

Just another one of those sad tiny tragedies doom themselves to a watery death and their families to grief by not wearing a lifejacket.

Ireland’s Maritime Casualty Investigation Board points out in its report “It is a statutory obligation for fishermen whilst on the deck of a fishing vessel to wear suitable lifejackets”.

Wearing a lifejacket is arguably also a fisherman’s obligation to his family.

Why Mr. Rudakov fell overboard is unknown. He can’t tell because he wasn’t wearing a lifejacket.

The harrowing attempts to save Mr. Rudakov are outlined in the MCIB report:

”Mr. Murphy was connecting up the bridle on the starboard side when he glanced across towards Mr. Rudakov and he stated he looked ‘distracted’. Mr. Murphy continued connecting his own side when he heard Mr. Alan Foley shout out. He looked up to see Mr. Rudakov’s legs in the air as he fell backwards over the bulwark.

“Mr. Alan Foley stated that from the control position he had a clear view of the two men working at the aft port and starboard. Mr. Rudakov appeared to shake, then started to fall backwards over the bulwark. He ran towards him from the control station but could not reach Mr. Rudakov in time and saw him fall head first into the sea.

“When Mr. Murphy looked over the stern he saw Mr. Rudakov floating face down in the water. He was not wearing a lifejacket. Mr. Alan Foley called out ‘man overboard’ and threw a lifebuoy to Mr. Rudakov. However, Mr. Rudakov appeared motionless and made no attempt to grab the lifebuoy.

“Mr. Alan Foley ran forward to get a rope to throw to Mr. Rudakov as he could find no suitable length of rope near the stern of the vessel. When he returned aft, Mr. Murphy had jumped overboard and had swam to Mr. Rudakov. Mr. Murphy managed to get hold of Mr. Rudakov by the braces of his oilskins but was unable to turn him around.

“Mr. Joseph Foley, who was in the wheelhouse, made a distress call on the VHF indicating ‘man overboard’. The time of this call is recorded as 07.22 hrs. He then released the Man Overboard (MOB) lifebuoy with self-igniting light and smoke attached. Using the rope he had thrown to the two men in the water, Mr. Alan Foley pulled the men back towards the stern of the vessel. Mr. Joseph Foley called on Mr. Alan Foley to get the boarding ladder and bring it down to the stern of the vessel.

”Due to the boarding ladder being tied in place it took a minute or two to cut the ladder from its normal stowage position. After a few minutes Mr. Murphy found he was also in difficulty, the strap on Mr. Rudakov oilskins broke and the two men drifted apart. Mr. Murphy called out for the other crew to help him out of the water. Eventually he managed to get back onboard the vessel by climbing up along the port bridle wire assisted by Mr. Alan Foley.

“At this time the casualty started to drift away from the vessel. An initial attempt was made to turn the vessel but due to the fact that the fishing gear was out, the vessel was very slow to turn around. The skipper also felt there was a substantial risk of the fishing gear becoming entangled in the propeller so it was decided to haul in the gear. It is estimated that it took between 10 and 12 minutes to haul the gear.

“The vessel then steamed back to the estimated position where the incident occurred and they spotted the MOB light and smoke signal. The casualty was located still face down in the water. In order to recover the casualty it was decided to launch the port liferaft.

“When the liferaft was launched Mr. Alan Foley boarded it but was unable to recover the casualty from the water. Mr. Murphy then climbed down to the liferaft to assist him and they managed to get the casualty into the liferaft. This was reported to Coastguard radio at 08.12 hrs.

“Another fishing vessel, the “Ocean Pearl”, was now close to the “Alma Amy” and radioed her to advise that the liferaft seemed to be being pulled into the propeller of the “Alma Amy”. It appears that the sea anchor (drogue) of the liferaft which is automatically deployed upon inflation may have become entangled in the propeller of the “Alma Amy”. The propeller controls were stated to be at the neutral position but the propeller may have been turning slowly ahead. Both Mr. Murphy and Mr. Alan Foley jumped from the liferaft into the water.

“Mr. Murphy was wearing a gas inflatable lifejacket that failed to inflate. However, both Mr. Murphy and Mr. Alan Foley managed to swim to the boarding ladder and climb back onboard the “Alma Amy”. The propeller was confirmed as being stopped and the liferaft was not pulled any closer to the propeller. Shortly after this at 08.30 hrs. the rescue helicopter R117 reported having visual contact with the vessel.

“Once on scene, R117 was unable to lower the winch man directly into the liferaft, instead he was lowered onto the deck of the “Alma Amy” and climbed down the boarding ladder into the liferaft. Mr. Rudakov was lifted from the liferaft to the helicopter at 08.43 hrs.

“…It is not known nor can it be determined why Mr. Rudakov went overboard. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Rudakov sustained trauma or became entangled in ropes or any other cause for him going overboard.

“The fishermen on board the MFV “Alma Amy” were not wearing lifejackets. It is
a statutory obligation for fishermen whilst on the deck of a fishing vessel to wear suitable lifejackets.

Download the report here.

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