Capsize and sinking of mussel dredger Orion

Location: Carlingford Lough, Northern Ireland.

Completed PE Summary: Orion

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Registered Owner & Manager:   East Coast Mussels Ltd
Port of registry:   Newry
Flag:   UK
Type:   Mussel Dredger
Built:   1908
Construction:   Steel
Gross tonnage:   46.00
Date & Time   02/07/05 01:40
Location of incident:   Coastal Waters
Incident Type:   Capsize
Persons onboard:   3 crew
Injuries/ fatalities:   None
Damage/ Pollution:   Constructive Total Loss


The mussel dredger Orion capsized in Carlingford Lough, County Down while seeding immature mussels on a commercial mussel bed. The crew of three escaped unhurt. The cargo was unusual in that it contained about 60% gravel and stones and exceeded the loading limits set out in the stability book. The vessel was salvaged and the examination determined that the probable cause of the capsize was due to a blockage in the seeding hatch coupled and free surface water in the hold double bottom coupled with a shift in the cargo

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the vessel’s owner recommending:

  • That he ensures that the stability book is retained onboard and that the skippers are fully aware of the load limitations.

  • That any alterations in the amount or disposition of the vessel’s weight are reported to the Maritime Coastguard Agency so that the need for re-assessment of the vessels stability can be determined.

  • That a risk assessment be conducted of the vessel’s operations and crew procedures in accordance with Marine Guidance Note 20 (M+F).

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