Poor sanitation conditions and an ignored recommendation after a previous man-overboard incident led to the loss of a crewmember aboard the British-registered scalloper St Amanti, suggests a new report from the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch. A number of deficiencies identified by the Maritime And Coastguard Agency prior to the incident had not been confirmed rectified.
Says MAIB:”The condition and the standard of housekeeping on board St Amant at the time of the accident were found to be poor. The large number of deficiencies that were identified during various Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveys and inspections indicated that St Amant’s owner, skipper and crewmen had an extremely poor attitude to establishing and maintaining a safe working environment on board the vessel. The written risk assessments for the operation of the vessel were also found
to be inadequate; precautions which might have prevented this accident were not put into practice”.
During the early hours of 13 January 2012, the 17.8m long scallop dredger St Amant was proceeding from Holyhead towards its intended fishing grounds in Cardigan Bay. Between about 0045 and 0145 (UTC), one of the vessel’s deckhands, Steven Robertson, was lost overboard. The accident was not seen by any of the other crew members, and Steven was not discovered to be missing until around 0200. Despite an extensive air and sea search, involving a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter, five Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboats, various commercially-operated vessels and a police helicopter, Steven could not be found.
It was considered most likely that Steven fell over the vessel’s aft bulwarks, probably while in the process of relieving himself overboard. It was also possible that he tripped or slipped on part of the fishing gear or equipment that was stowed on the deck. He was not wearing a personal flotation device or a personal locator beacon when he fell overboard.
The investigation established that the vessel had been given an exemption from complying with the minimum bulwark height requirements contained in the Fishing Vessel (Safety Provisions) Rules 1975. The arrangement of St Amant that led to the
initial decision to grant the exemption had not been reviewed in accordance with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s procedures, meaning that parts of the vessel’s bulwarks were less than the minimum statutory height. The investigation also found
that a large proportion of the deficiencies which had been identified during previous surveys and inspections of St Amant, had never been confirmed as rectified.
The owner of St Amant has been recommended to take action to improve both the safety of the working practices on board and the hazard awareness of the vessel’s crew. Recommendations have also been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to review and clarify aspects of its survey and inspection policy for fishing vessels. These include procedures for the review and deletion of exemptions; the management of outstanding deficiencies; and the introduction of a policy and procedure for conducting detailed inspections of fishing vessels following serious accidents.