Explosion and subsequent sinking of prawn trawler/mussel dredger Tullaghmurry Lass with loss of 3 lives

Location: In the Irish Sea off Kilkeel, Northern Ireland.

Accident Investigation Report 4/2003

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

tullaghmurry-lass.pdf (278.98 kb)


Tullaghmurry Lass was a 10.02 metre registered length fishing vessel, of wood construction, operated as a prawn trawler out of Kilkeel, Northern Ireland. At 0340 on the morning of 14 February 2002, she left Kilkeel for a day fishing trip with three people on board. One of these was a child of 8 years of age.

Safety Issues

  • the vessel sank because she had suffered an explosion in her cabin area, which had caused catastrophic damage to her hull and wheelhouse
  • although gas has been identified as the fuel for the explosion, some uncertainty remains as to the source of the gas. A leak from the vessel’s own LPG system is considered most likely


Owners and skippers of fishing vessels are recommended to heed the advice contained in MCA’s MGN 192(F) on the safe use of space heaters which use LPG.

This report was published in February 2003.

Published 23 January 2015