An MOB fatality might have been avoided by separating crew from the back rope of a fishing vessel while carrying multiple sets of creels; providing knives that can be used quickly in an emergency; and, the wearing of lifejackets or personal flotation devices while working on the open deck says the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
Says the MAIB’s preliminary report on the incidents aboard the fishing vessel Flying Cloud: “The potting vessel Flying Cloud was recovering its catch and shifting some of its sets of creels to more sheltered grounds in preparation for worsening weather. The vessel was fitted with a stern-shooting arrangement, which was normally used when shooting a single set of creels. However, when shifting grounds, several sets of creels were carried on deck and this prevented the stern-shooting system from being used. The accident happened while a co-owner of the vessel was shooting away the last of the sets by picking up each creel in turn and throwing it over the side in the traditional method.
“The helmsman heard a shout from the aft deck. He turned and saw the co-owner’s leg caught in the back rope that connected the creels together. The helmsman came astern to reduce the tension in the back rope, but the co-owner was carried overboard and dragged underwater. The helmsman was able to heave in the back rope and bring the co-owner to the surface and up to the block in the hauling davit. However, the co-owner was caught in the back rope, and on cutting the rope to free himself was once again dragged underwater. When the co-owner did not resurface, the helmsman manoeuvred the boat to retrieve the other end of the back rope. He hauled the set back on board and found the co-owner still entangled in the back rope.
“The co-owner was given first-aid before being evacuated to hospital by helicopter, but he could not be saved”.