MAIB Report Over Ardglass Trawler Collision Says Both Watches Did Not Spot The Danger

County Down prawn trawlers Good Intent (SY79) and the Silver Dee (B310) collided at 5.15am on 29 July 2015, and were both of wooden construction, says a Marine Accident Investigation Report published today.  As a result of the collision, the Silver Dee which was seriously damaged sank as water poured quickly into the stern area of the vessel.

Fortunately the weather was fair and the Silver Dee crew were able to scramble on to the safety of the Good Intent which was also damaged but fit to steam back to Ardglass fishing port.

The Silver Dee which sank following a collision with the Good Intent.
The Silver Dee which sank following a collision with the Good Intent.

Just a short time later at 5.45am, the Silver Dee sank.

The Silver Dee Dee skipper was steaming out to the fishing grounds at eight knots and the skipper in the wheelhouse was busy planning out his day’s fishing and was not aware the Good Intent  was heading towards fishing grounds to the south at 8kts. The skipper sat alone seated in the wheelhouse chair, and spent some time planning the day’s fishing. He was not aware visually of the Good Intent until seconds before the accident. He had not monitored other vessels effectively the MAIB report indicated and it suggested that fatigue by both crews may have been a factor in the cause of the collision.

The report explained that the Good Intent was drifting overnight and at 4.30am it fired up its engine to make a start for the day. But much of the 45 minutes prior to the collision, there was no-one on watch on the Good Intent wheelhouse and at 5.15am, the Good Intent stopped in the path of the Silver Dee with the trawlers being only 0.6 nautical miles apart.

The Good Intent watch keeper then proceeded to waken up the skipper who went into the wheelhouse, but when he arrived there he saw the Silver Dee close on his port side. He put the Good Intent into reverse gear but the collision was unavoidable.

The Silver Dee struck the Good Intent portside resulting in the Silver Dee’s planking both sides of the stem opening up with a significant ingress of water. Water flooded into the cabin area and hold.

The Good Intent, however, was only slightly damaged and the Silver Dee’s crew transferred from their sinking vessel to the Good intent which had sent out an emergency DSC alert and contacted HM Coastguard in Belfast. There were no injuries in the incident.

In a summary of the maritime safety lessons learned, the MAIB reported that

* it was essential to keep a safe navigational watch on fishing vessels.
“A vessel that is seen can be avoided. A vessel that isn’t seen is an accident waiting to happen. Wheelhouse watchkeepers need to be well rested, alert and use all means available to keep a proper lookout.”
* A navigational watch should be conducted from the wheelhouse as situations at sea can change very quickly. Jobs need to be prioritised properly in accordance with this need.
* Both the EPIRB and the liferaft were in working order and performed fully in notifying the Coastguard and providing a temporary liferaft shelter for a crew – which the MAIB found reassuring.
* The MAIB also noted that there was a tendency for older wooden fishing boats not to have watertight bulkheads designed to prevent sudden flooding if there was damage to the hull of the vessel.