Accident to skipper of scallop dredger Ronan Orla with loss of 1 life

Location: 3 miles north-east of Porth Dinllaen, north Wales.

Accident Investigation Report 12/2015

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons and recommendations made:

MAIB investigation report 12-2015: Ronan Orla

Photograph of Ronan Orla


At about 1100 on 30 March 2014, the owner/skipper of the 9.98m scallop dredger Ronan Orla was fatally injured when he became entangled on the starboard warping drum of the vessel’s winch. The skipper was operating the vessel single-handedly and was attempting to recover his dredge gear on board when the accident happened. About 4 hours later, the crew of another scallop dredger noticed that Ronan Orla appeared to be in trouble. They came alongside Ronan Orla and a crewman climbed on board and stopped the winch. It was apparent that Ronan Orla’s skipper was deceased.

The key safety issues identified were:

  • Ronan Orla’s skipper became entangled on the vessel’s rotating winch drum and was unable to free himself or stop the winch.
  • The skipper was operating single-handedly. There was no-one on board to help him or raise the alarm.
  • The vessel’s winch had not been properly maintained. It was in a poor state of repair and was not fitted with emergency stops.


The recently published MAIB report into a serious accident that occurred on board the fishing vessel Wanderer II (Report No 6/2015) makes several recommendations that address safety issues identified in this report. However, recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (2015/129) and Seafish (2015/130), which seek to ensure that fishing vessel owners are compelled to send copies of the mandatory self-certification assessments to the Regulator, and the increased risks associated with lone working and single-handed operations are emphasised in safety awareness training courses.

A safety accident flyer highlighting a number of the safety issues was produced for this report.

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