Capsize and sinking of under 12m ring netter Heather Anne with loss of 1 life

Location: Gerrans Bay, Cornwall, England.

Accident Investigation Report 2/2013

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

HeatherAnne-Report.pdf (1,748.63 kb)

Annexes (3,408.30 kb)


At about 2200 on 20 December 2011, the UK registered fishing vessel Heather Anne capsized and foundered in Gerrans Bay, Cornwall resulting in the loss of 1 crewman. The skipper and his crewman were soon recovered from the water by a nearby fishing vessel, the crewman had drowned.

Safety lessons

  • neither the skipper nor the crewman was wearing a lifejacket
  • a stability assessment indicated that the vessel had been operating with a low reserve of stability
  • as a consequence, her displacement had increased by over 50% and, with a catch of an estimated 10.5 tonnes on board at the time of capsize, her freeboard was reduced to only a few centimetres


Recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Marine Management Organisation and the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation which seek to improve the stability of small fishing vessels through the timely provision of stability criteria and the promulgation of better guidance on the methods that can be used to assess vessel stability on all small fishing vessels.

A further recommendation has been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which is designed to provide support for ongoing efforts which seek to ensure fishermen wear personal flotation devices when working on the open deck. A recommendation has also been made to the owner of Heather Anne which is intended to ensure the safe operation of any vessel that he may own in the future.

Published: 10 January 2013

Published 23 January 2015