Capsize and sinking of twin-rig prawn trawler Kairos

Location: 70 nautical miles west of the Isles of Scilly

Accident Investigation Report 5/2016

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

MAIB investigation report 5-2016: Kairos


Image courtesy of Steve Ellwood


At about 2335 on 18 May 2015, the 18.6m twin-rig prawn trawler Kairos capsized and foundered in very rough seas 70 nautical miles west of the Isles of Scilly, UK. The vessel’s five crew abandoned into the water and climbed into a liferaft. They were rescued by a nearby fishing vessel. Kairos’s skipper fell into the sea when leaving the liferaft but he was quickly recovered from the water. There were no injuries and there was no pollution.

The capsize occurred after Kairos had developed a significant port list while attempting to recover a lost trawl.

Safety Issues

It is likely that the vessel’s total loss of stability was primarily due to:

  • The repeated swamping of the aft deck by high waves
  • The load on the creeper wire used to try and recover the lost net
  • The downflooding of sea water through the cabin space air vent (after the port list reached an angle of about 35°)
  • The downflooding of sea water through an engine room air vent (after the port list reached an angle of about 48°)

Action taken

The dangers of trawling and recovering lost gear are promulgated in Marine Guidance Note 415 (F). The MAIB has published a flyer to the fishing industry highlighting this guidance and the vulnerability of fishing vessels operating in extreme or unusual circumstances. Consequently, no recommendations have been made.

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

Published 9 March 2016