News story

Solstice report and flyer published

Capsize and sinking of a fishing vessel with the loss of 1 life off Plymouth, England.

Fishing vessel Solstice

MAIB’s report on the capsize of the fishing vessel Solstice (PH 199) resulting in the loss of 1 life, is now published.

Chief Inspector’s statement:

Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, said:

Sadly, this was another case of a small fishing vessel that capsized in calm seas because it had been modified and its fishing methods changed without adequate consideration being given to vessel stability. Solstice’s owner and skipper did not have the stability data required to properly assess the impact of the changes that had been made to the vessel, and therefore, they did not fully appreciate the danger associated with lifting a heavy catch onboard over the stern.

The skipper and crewman were both extremely lucky to survive. They entered the water without lifejackets and before they could raise an alarm. Fortunately, they managed to clamber onto Solstice’s upturned hull and their families raised the alarm by reporting the vessel overdue.

The search and rescue mission was hampered because Solstice’s position when it capsized was unknown. The activation of an automatic electronic position indicating beacon would have taken the ‘search’ out of search and rescue. The carriage of such equipment on all small fishing vessels like Solstice becomes mandatory in October 2019, but I urge fishing vessel owners not to wait; electronic position indicating beacons are not expensive and they can save lives.

The report contains details of what happened, the subsequent actions taken and recommendations made: read more.

A safety flyer to the fishing industry summarising the accident and detailing the safety lessons learned, has also been published.

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Published 6 December 2018