Investigation Reveals Safety Failures in Fishing Vessel Incident Aquila

The MCIB report into an incident where a crewman was injured onboard the Irish-registered fishing vessel ‘Aquila’ revealed safety failures. Photo: Marine Traffic/William Power

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has released its investigative report into an incident on the Irish-Registered fishing vessel ‘Aquila’ S 603 from Union Hall, Co Cork. The incident occurred on November 7, 2021, during a routine fishing operation south of the Kinsale Gas Rigs, resulting in injuries to a crew member.

The 22-metre fishing vessel, Aquila, with five crew members on board, left Union Hall at approximately 21:00 hrs on November 6, 2021, for a fishing expedition. While hauling the second catch of the day on November 7, the vessel’s net handling crane experienced a sudden loss of hydraulic oil pressure, causing the crane’s jib and power head to uncontrollably lower, trapping a crew member between the power head and the deck supporting the net drum. The injured crew member suffered crush injuries.

The skipper immediately contacted Cork Coast Guard Radio (CGR) at 12:38 hrs, seeking a medical evacuation for the injured crew member. The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) helicopter R115 airlifted the crew member to Cork University Hospital (CUH) around 15:00 hrs for medical attention. The injured crew member was discharged on November 8, deemed fit to fly home, and subsequently returned to the Philippines to recover before returning to work on an Irish registered fishing vessel.

Key Conclusions and Safety Recommendations:


Incident Causes:
  1. The incident resulted from a loss of fluid from the main jib hydraulic cylinder between the cylinder and the check valve.
  2. The position of the main cylinder valve block exposed it to mechanical damage.
  3. Threaded connections were identified as a source of failure due to stress raisers and potential over-torquing.


Operational Issues:
  1. The crane operator’s elevated control position did not provide a clear view of the working area around the net pounds, creating operational risks.
  2. Inadequate risk assessment during the crane installation regarding the crane operator’s visibility during net recovery operations.


Safety Recommendations:
  1. Manufacturers Thistle Group Limited, trading as Thistle Marine, should review pipe connecting arrangements and consider risk mitigation measures.
  2. Thistle Marine should review threaded pipe connecting arrangements and recommend an inspection and replacement regime.
  3. Owners of fishing vessel Aquila should review the crane operator’s position to enhance visibility during all crane operations.
  4. The Minister for Transport should issue Marine Notices to employers and vessel owners outlining hazards and legal obligations related to deck crane operations.
  5. Consideration should be given to introducing regulations specific to articulated hydraulic deck cranes to enhance safety.


The recommendations aim to address identified safety lapses and improve the overall safety of fishing vessels operating articulated hydraulic deck cranes.

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