This incident involved a Member’s fishing vessel capsizing whilst trawling, with the loss of one crew member.
The vessel’s gear became snagged on an underwater obstruction. Whilst hauling back in an effort to free the gear, power was lost to the winches and, as a result of their design, the winch brakes were automatically applied. The crew were unable to release them.
With the gear fast, the effect of the wind and tide placed a heavy load on the port warp and the vessel was effectively given a port list. The vessel started to roll, making the port side engine room intake dip below the water line, causing the engine room to flood which eventually resulted in the vessel capsizing.
The six crew members successfully abandoned the vessel, but unfortunately five of the six life jackets used by the crew failed to inflate and as a result one crew member got into difficulties and drowned.
The inquiry into this incident highlighted a number of contributing factors to the cause which were primarily not within the control of those on board, e.g. air intakes for the engine room were considered too low and the emergency start facility for the winches was not user friendly.
Of main concern to the Club is the failure of so many life jackets to inflate. Investigations by the authorities found that the CO2 cylinders providing the inflating gas had been unscrewed from their housings. Tests showed that this could occur during normal usage.
The life jackets were working type rather than those required by SOLAS, and due to wear and tear, the outer cover chafed against the cylinder, which caused it to gradually unscrew.
corrective/Preventative actions We recommend that Members advise crews to check thoroughly all life jackets regularly and to ensure when required that the life jackets are serviced by an approved service agent.
Financial cost The cost of this claim was USD$186,989.16.