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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/maib-information-leaflet/maib-information-leaflet
1. Who we are
Located in offices in Southampton, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch is a branch of the Department for Transport (DfT). The Branch has four teams of experienced accident investigators, each comprising a principal inspector and three inspectors drawn from the nautical, engineering, naval architecture or fishing disciplines. The inspectors are supported by an administrative team who also deal with finance, contracts, data analysis and publications.
2. What we do
The role of the MAIB is to contribute to safety at sea by determining the causes and circumstances of marine accidents and working with others to reduce the likelihood of such accidents recurring in the future. Accident investigations are conducted solely in the interest of future safety. The Branch does not apportion blame and it does not establish liability, enforce laws or carry out prosecutions.
3. What is an accident?
The full definition of an accident is contained in the MAIB’s enabling regulations. In summary, an accident is an undesired event that has occurred directly by, or in connection with the operation of a ship, that has resulted in:
- the loss or abandonment of the ship;
- death, serious injury, or the loss of a person from a ship;
- stranding or disabling of a ship;
- material damage to the ship, another ship or marine structure; and/or
- serious pollution.
Accidents, including serious injuries, should be reported to the MAIB by the quickest possible means to enable inspectors to start an investigation before vital evidence decays, is removed or is lost. The MAIB has a dedicated reporting line for this purpose, and this line is staffed 24 hours a day.
MAIB accident reporting line
Accident reporting line +44 (0)23 8023 2527
4. What happens after an accident has been reported?
Following the notification of an accident, MAIB inspectors gather as much evidence as possible so that a decision can be reached about how to proceed. In very serious cases a safety investigation will begin immediately. For other casualties, it may be necessary to conduct a Preliminary Assessment during which further details are obtained to establish whether or not further investigation is warranted. This decision will usually be made within 2 weeks of the accident, and all involved parties will be informed.
5. An MAIB investigation
5.1 Field work and initial enquiries
In the early stages of an investigation inspectors will gather as much information as possible relating to the accident. This will usually involve visiting the vessel(s) concerned, interviewing crew, passengers, shore staff, and other witnesses or survivors, and collecting physical and electronic evidence. At the scene of the accident, the inspector may take photographs or videos of pertinent areas and items of equipment, or may examine logbooks, other records, crew qualifications and certificates. If the vessel is fitted with a voyage data recorder, the data will be removed and examined at the MAIB offices. If a vessel has sunk, remotely-operated vehicle surveys and/or divers may be contracted to assist in the investigation. Failed items of equipment may be independently analysed to determine the mode of failure. The inspector will then analyse the evidence and will use this to try to determine the causal and contributory factors that led to the accident.
5.2 Investigation report
Once the active investigation phase is completed, a report is produced, including recommendations where appropriate. Each investigation report is circulated for consultation to stakeholders and anyone whose reputation could be affected by its contents. If a person has died in the accident the report is sent to their next of kin. A 30-day consultation period enables involved parties to check the facts and analysis in the report, and put forward suggestions or corrections. All submissions will be taken into account, and the report amended if necessary, before it is finally published and made publicly available.
Investigation reports may contain recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents in the future. Recommendations are published in the investigation report and in the Chief Inspector’s Annual Report to the Secretary of State. Although the recommendations carry no force of law, there is a requirement for recipients to report whether or not they accept the recommendation and, if accepted, how it will be taken forward. Comments received from recipients of recommendations that have been rejected or are partially accepted will normally be placed in the public domain via the Chief Inspector’s Annual Report to the Secretary of State.
6. Spreading the safety message
6.1 Safety Bulletin
From time to time, urgent safety issues and recommendations need to be disseminated quickly to prevent a further similar accident. Such safety messages are promulgated via a Safety Bulletin.
6.2 Safety Flyer
The MAIB also produces safety flyers, which are published at the same time as an investigation report but which highlight the safety lessons specifically to the relevant sectors of the marine community.
6.3 Safety Digest
Twice a year, the MAIB publishes its Safety Digest. This is a free publication, available to all, but produced primarily for the maritime professional. The Safety Digest comprises a collection of short accounts of accidents and incidents but with the identifying details removed to make them anonymous. The articles are written in a concise style designed to highlight the safety issues and lessons learned from each event.
MAIB personnel regularly give presentations at maritime colleges and to maritime related associations, institutes and clubs with the aim of spreading the safety message across the industry and, in particular, to the next generation of seafarers.
The MAIB maintains a database of reportable accidents which have occurred since 1991. This provides an overview of trends in marine accidents and forms a comprehensive and readily accessible store of information. Statistics are published in the Chief Inspector’s Annual Report to the Secretary of State.
8. Contact details
Further information about the MAIB, and access to investigation reports and information can be found on this website. Or contact the MAIB at the address below:
Marine Accident Investigation Branch
First Floor, Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
Enquiries during office hours +44 (0)23 8039 5500