This reports the MAIB’s investigation into the capsize and sinking of the scallop dredger JMT off Rame Head on 9 July 2015. The body of JMT’s crewman was recovered the following morning but its skipper was not found.
Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
The loss of FV JMT is one of many fatal accidents involving small fishing vessels that have capsized because their crews did not understand the fundamental principles of stability.
However, in common with nearly all fishing vessels <15m, FV JMT had not been provided with any stability information that might have given its crew some indicators on how to operate the boat safely.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has confirmed its commitment to introducing stability criteria for new fishing vessels <15m. This is a welcome initiative that will ultimately improve fishing safety over time but will have no impact on the safety of the UK’s existing small fishing vessel fleet for the foreseeable future.
The difficulties of providing existing small fishing vessels with comprehensive stability criteria are understood. However, the Wolfson mark, provides a practical and relatively inexpensive method of giving fishermen some indication about how to operate their vessels within safe limits.
The MAIB’s report into the loss of the FV JMT therefore contains two key recommendations:
to require all skippers to attend the Seafish stability awareness course; and
to fit the Wolfson mark to all existing fishing vessels <15m
If taken forward, these measures should help prevent the sudden capsize of small fishing vessels in the future and the tragic loss of life that such events will often cause.
The modifications made to JMT adversely impacted on the vessel’s top weight and centre of gravity which meant that the vessel had only 25% of the stability reserve required of larger fishing vessels
Leaving the port dredges suspended from the gantry while the starboard dredges were emptied, the low levels of fuel carried, stowing the catch on deck and leaving doorways and hatches open all further reduced JMT’s stability
Skippers of small fishing vessels are not required to complete stability training and may be unaware of their vessel’s limitations
The crew’s likelihood of survival was reduced by not wearing lifejackets, the failure of the liferaft to surface, not having a float-free EPIRB and not having the opportunity to make a distress call
Recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (2016/130, 2016/131, 2016/133 and 2016/134), to Seafish (2016/132, 2016/133 and 2016/134) and to the national fishing federations (2016/134) that are designed to ensure:
All small fishing vessels of under 15m are provided with stability information
Skippers of small fishing vessels are required to complete stability awareness training
Inspections of vessels against the Seafish Construction Standards are consistently robust and thorough
A safety flyer highlighting a number of the safety issues was produced for this report.