Marine casualty Investigation Board Annual Report 2019

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has released its Annual Report 2019

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has released its Annual Report 2019.

In 2019, the Board published seven final reports and investigations were initiated by the Board into ten incidents. Four of the ten incidents which required full investigations involved the fishing industry, five occurred during recreational use and one resulted from a collision between a cargo vessel and a yacht.

Out of the four incidents involved fishing vessels, two of these resulted in the loss of life.

  • Death of a crewmember returning to his vessel at Killybegs, Co Donegal (15/03/2019).
  • Fire on board a fishing vessel, off Wexford Coast (03/05/2019).
  • Death of a crewmember returning to his vessel at Rosslare, Co Wexford (19/05/2019).
  • Grounding and loss of a trawler off Ardglass, Co Down (24/10/2019).
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The five final reports related to incidents in the fishing industry were:

Name of vessel/Incident: MV Menhaden/Killybegs Harbour, Co. Donegal

DATE OF INCIDENT 15 March 2019

TYPE OF CRAFT Fishing vessel, >24m

TYPE OF INCIDENT Drowning of crew member while reboarding vessel

FATALITIES 1 fatality

SUMMARY The Casualty was last recorded on Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) at 00.55 hrs on Thursday the 14th March 2019. His vessel, the ‘MFV Menhaden’, was moored outside the ‘MV Grip Transporter’ which in turn was moored outside a third vessel, the ‘MFV Olgarry’. The CCTV footage captures images of the Casualty climbing the gangway from the quay onto the starboard side of the ‘MFV Olgarry’. He can then be seen moving aft and transiting to the port side of the ‘MFV Olgarry’ before moving out of sight behind the wheelhouse. He did not reappear on the CCTV footage forward of the wheelhouse or midships where the gangway to the ‘MV Grip Transporter’ was rigged. At approximately 12.30 hrs the Harbour Master was alerted that the Casualty was missing. After viewing the CCTV footage the Harbour Master contacted the Marine Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) at Malin Head who in turn tasked Killybegs Coast Guard at 12.51 hrs. The Coast Guard boat was launched at 13.10 hrs and a shore search also commenced. At 13.25 hrs a body was sighted on the shore at the east side of the harbour. At 13.40 hrs the Coast Guard shore crew arrived on scene and called Ballyshannon Gardaí to request their attendance with a doctor. The evidence indicates the Casualty entered the water while transiting from the ‘MFV Olgarry’ at approximately 01.00 hrs. Weather conditions were poor at the time with a lot of movement between vessels.

Marine casualty Investigation Board Annual Report 2019

The MFV Suzanne II on fire

Name of vessel/Incident: Susanne II/fire and subsequent sinking


TYPE OF CRAFT Fishing vessel, 15 – 24 m

TYPE OF INCIDENT Fire and sinking


SUMMARY On the 2nd of May 2019 a fishing vessel, 30 nautical miles east of Arklow was stopped while the crew were taking a break between fishing activities when a crew member observed smoke coming from an engine room vent. The weather at the time was good. The Skipper went to investigate the source of the smoke and soon realised that there was a serious fire in the engine room. He made an attempt to fight the fire, but the level of smoke hampered any effort. The smoke and fire very quickly engulfed the vessel’s accommodation and wheelhouse. The crew retrieved the vessel’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and abandoned ship to an inflatable life raft. A passing angling vessel sighted the smoke from the burning fishing vessel and proceeded in the direction to investigate. On arriving on-scene the angling vessel recovered the three crewmembers from their life raft. Shortly afterwards the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter R117 arrived and lowered a paramedic to assess the crew from the fishing vessel. The Skipper was airlifted to University Hospital Waterford from where he was later discharged, while the two other crewmembers were brought to Arklow Harbour. A short time later a tugboat with firefighting capabilities arrived on-scene and commenced fighting the fire on-board the fishing vessel. The fishing vessel continued to burn and eventually sank.

Marine casualty Investigation Board Annual Report 2019

Rosslare Europort where the fatal accident took place. Photo; MCIB

Name of vessel/Incident: FV Ellie Adham/Rosslare, Co. Wexford.


TYPE OF CRAFT Fishing vessel, 15 – 24 m

TYPE OF INCIDENT Drowning of crew member while boarding vessel

FATALITIES 1 fatality

SUMMARY On the 19th May 2019, as the berthing crew were preparing to dock the ‘MV Stena Nordica’ at approximately 03.40 hrs they noticed a man passing by No. 3 berth. He seemed unsteady on his feet and informed the berthing crew he was going to the ‘MFV Ellie Adhamh’. The man was then seen to proceed towards No. 4 berth where that vessel was moored. The last line came ashore from the ‘MV Stena Nordica’ at approximately 03.55 hrs. A member of the berthing party then went to check to see if the man was alright. As he approached the ‘MFV Ellie Adhamh’ he heard a noise coming from between the vessel and the quay wall. The other members of the berthing crew arrived and located the Casualty face down in the water. The berthing crew then contacted the Duty Port Controller who contacted the emergency services. The ‘MV Stena Nordica’ launched its rescue boat and they recovered the Casualty. They then landed him at the Lifeboat Station but despite medical intervention the Casualty did not survive.

Marine casualty Investigation Board Annual Report 2019

Name of vessel/Incident: FV Dillon Owen/grounding and sinking.

DATE OF INCIDENT 24 October 2019

TYPE OF CRAFT Fishing vessel, 15 – 25 m

TYPE OF INCIDENT Grounding and sinking


SUMMARY On the morning of the 23rd October 2019, the ‘FV Dillon Owen’, whilst approaching Ardglass Harbour, Northern Ireland, lost power and drifted onto rocks at Phennick Point. The five crew members were airlifted to safety. Attempts by RNLI lifeboats to tow the vessel were unsuccessful and the fishing vessel remained on the rocks pending a salvage operation. The ‘FV Dillon Owen’ sank over the following days. The wreck was recovered and sent for demolition. There were no injuries to the crew or pollution of the environment connected with this incident

Name of vessel/Incident: FV Julie Eleanor


TYPE OF CRAFT Fishing vessel < 15 m

TYPE OF INCIDENT Man overboard

SUMMARY On the 22nd November 2017 at 12.22 hrs the fishing vessel ‘FV Julie Eleanor’ departed with a single fisher aboard. At 21.46 hrs on the 22nd November the Coast Guard received a phone call reporting the fishing vessel as overdue. At 23.15 hrs the Search and Rescue helicopter located the vessel at a position 1.2 miles south east of Barna where it was held fast to a line of pots. The Galway lifeboat crew boarded the vessel at 23.21 hrs and found nobody aboard. The sole Personal Floatation Device (PFD) with which the vessel was equipped was subsequently located in the wheelhouse. The search was suspended at 01.33 hrs on the 23rd November and was resumed at first light. The body of the fisher was recovered around noon approximately five miles east of where the vessel had been located.


CAUSE OF INCIDENT The cause of the Casualty falling overboard is not readily identifiable. It has not been possible to ascertain what caused the interruption in deployment of the second line of pots. The fact that the boathook was on board suggests the Casualty was not trying to clear fouled pots or lines as it would have gone overboard also. In addition, the engine and steering were operating satisfactorily when the vessel was brought to Galway docks, which is counter indicative of a fouled propeller or rudder that the fisher might have been attempting to clear. The weather and sea at the time were not severe so those factors are unlikely to have caused the Casualty to fall overboard.

Marine casualty Investigation Board Annual Report 2019

The MV Ashling Patrick

Name of vessel/Incident: FV Ashling Patrick


TYPE OF CRAFT Fishing Vessel 15 m


SUMMARY On the 10th April 2018 at approximately 07.00 hrs, the ‘FV Aisling Patrick’ departed from Ballyglass, Co. Mayo with three persons on board to fish for mackerel between Erris Head and Eagle Island. At around 12.30 hrs the vessel began listing to starboard. The Skipper entered the wheelhouse and the speed was reduced to ascertain the cause of the list. A wave struck the vessel on the port quarter which pushed the starboard bulwark under water and flooded the deck. Almost immediately a second wave struck the port side again and capsized the vessel. The Skipper had commenced a mayday message after the first wave struck but he had not completed it when the second wave struck and capsized the vessel. He swam out from underneath the capsized vessel. The other two crewmembers were thrown into the water. The life raft surfaced from under the vessel and one crewmember inflated it and climbed aboard. He threw a large fender towards the Skipper. The third crewmember was in the water face down and did not make any attempt to swim or stay afloat. One crewmember was in the life raft, the other two were in the water drifting away.


CAUSE OF INCIDENT The investigation was unable to determine conclusively the cause of the capsize but it would appear that the vessel’s stability was reduced due to the ingress of water and as a consequence capsized in the prevailing sea conditions. There were at least two possible sources of water ingress identified on the starboard side of the vessel. One source identified was the multiple pipe connections between the oil cooler and deck water pump. Another source of water ingress was through a crack in the deck leading to the aft starboard compartment. The bilge alarm systems did not give an early warning of water ingress into either compartment. This indicates that the vessel had not been maintained in accordance with the Code of Practice for fishing vessels less than 15 m LOA as required in the CoP Section The requirements set out in Sections 2.17, 2.18 and 4.3.2 and Annex 7 of the CoP could benefit from elaboration to assist owners in ensuring the installation and maintenance of effective bilge pump arrangements. The most probable reason the EPIRB did not deploy is that its hydrostatic release did not immerse to 4 metres. The distress message would have been complete had it been sent digitally by activating the DSC button on the VHF. The absence of any formal operational training for the crew of this vessel resulted in poor operational procedures and incorrect actions during an emergency situation. Of the top ten factors in the Marine Safety Strategy contributing to loss of life at sea in Ireland identified by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport the following three are present in this incident:

  • The need for an enhanced maritime safety culture.
  • Lack of crew training.
  • Non-wearing of PFD (lifejacket/buoyancy aid).

The full report can be read here.


Brian J McMullin Solicitors
MMG Welding Killybegs