Collision between beam trawler Wilhelmina J and cargo vessel Zulfikar resulting in Wilhelmina J sinking with loss of 6 lives

Location: In the Dover Strait, off the south east coast of England.

Accident Investigation Report: Wilhelmina J/Zulfikar

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



MFV Wilhelmina J, a 26 metre United Kingdom registered beam trawler, left Portsmouth on the 9 April 1991 to trawl for scallops in the English Channel in the vicinity of fishing grounds known as Horseshoe Bank. She had a crew of six. At approximately 0200 hrs on 10 April Wilhelmina J was in collision, in thick fog, with MV Zulfikar, a 142 metre 8714 gross tons Cyprus registered cargo ship. The vessel was on a passage from Eemshaven (Germany) to Port Said (Egypt). The collision happened about three miles west of the termination of the southwest bound lane of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme.

Safety Issues

The proximate cause of the collision was a failure by Zulfikar, and a possible failure by Wilhelmina J, to keep a proper radar watch to obtain early warning of the risk of collision and take avoiding action in ample time. This was a contravention of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. Zulfikar made an incorrect assumption that Wilhelmina J would pass clear on her port side, as indicated by an electronic plotting aid. The plotting aid had been entered with scanty radar information.


Multiple recommendations have been made because of this investigation.

This report was published on 10 September 1992.

Published 23 January 2015