Capsize and sinking of stern trawler Fraoch Ban

Location: Off the Shetland Islands, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 12a/2000

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

fraoch ban.pdf (713.73 kb)


On 15 August 1999 a fishing vessel Fraoch Ban capsized and sank off the coast of the Shetland Islands. Sand eels, stowed in bulk, caused the vessel to capsize. The skipper radioed another fishing vessel for assistance and the crew abandoned the vessel. They had to swim to the liferaft, which had floated away because it had been stowed incorrectly. One of the crew became unconscious during the swim and needed to be hauled to the liferaft. The other crew members successfully resuscitated him and he later made a full recovery.

Safety Issues

  • the large free surface in the fish hold was the main cause of the accident. The incorrect use of the pound boards, particularly the gaps under them did little to lessen the free surface, which was enough to capsize the vessel
  • Fraoch Ban’s stability book only showed conditions for the carriage of boxed fish; at the time of the accident the fish were being stowed in bulk, a condition which had not been approved
  • the liferaft had not been correctly stowed


Recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Fraoch Ban’s owner.

This report was published on 18 May 2000.

Published 23 January 2015