Capsize, drifting and sinking of beam trawler Flamingo with loss of 4 lives

Location: East of Harwich, England.

Accident Investigation Report 15/2003

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

flamingo.pdf (310.24 kb)


On 7 July 2002, the Belgian beam trawler Flamingo sank just inside UK waters to the east of Harwich. Her crew of four was lost. That evening, the vessel had been fishing in the company of three other Belgian trawlers but, at 2253, Thames Coastguard was informed of an EPIRB alert from the vessel. Flamingo could not be contacted and a search and rescue operation began immediately. Flamingo’s upturned hull was located, and the bodies of two of the four crew members were picked up. Neither was wearing a lifejacket. The hull drifted with the tide until the following afternoon, when it was attempted to tow her towards a nearby sandbank, with the intention of beaching her. Flamingo sank shortly after the tow began.

Safety Issues

  • a weight of rocks and shells in the portside net caused it to break at a “weak link”, this raised the vessel’s centre of gravity, reduced stability, and Flamingo capsized as a result


Recommendations have been made with regard to the wearing of lifejackets on the deck of fishing vessels, the risks to stability when operating beam trawlers, the effectiveness of quick release gear in preventing capsize, and the inherent dangers of the design of the “weak link”.

This report was published in June 2003.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015