Capsize and sinking of prawn trawler Amber with loss of 1 life

Location: Firth of Forth, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 25/2003

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

Amber.pdf (972.96 kb)


On 6 January 2003 the fishing vessel Amber was lost suddenly in the Firth of Forth. The skipper drowned as a result. Amber had departed from Pittenween harbour with just the skipper on board. His son, who normally crewed for him, had been unable to join him because he was ill. During the towing process, the skipper was in contact with other fishermen, and at 1915 he called the owner on his mobile telephone. The owner advised him to call the coastguard to be on the safe side. At 1954, the coastguard received a “Pan-Pan” urgency call. At 2012, communications with Amber were lost and a search for the missing vessel started. A diesel slick, wreckage and an inflated liferaft were discovered during the night and, at 0624 the following day, a search vessel reported that she had located the vessel on the seabed in Forth Ports’ ‘Kilo 6’ anchorage. Divers were sent down the next day and recovered the skipper’s body from the wheelhouse. After the wreck was surveyed on the seabed, the vessel was salvaged and then taken to Burntisland where a survey and inclining experiment were conducted.

Safety Issues

  • the inclining experiment, and its subsequent analysis, indicated Amber’s stability to be poor

  • lack of awareness of the requirements of stability for small fishing vessels
  • lack of awareness of the regulations, risk assessment requirements and formal training of fishermen


Recommendations have been made to the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

This report was published in October 2003.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015