Flooding and sinking of potter Purbeck Isle with loss of 3 lives

Location: 9 miles south of Portland Bill, England.

Accident Investigation Report 7/2013

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

PurbeckIsle-Web-Report.pdf (4,277.05 kb)

Annexes (6,140.70 kb)


On 17 May 2012, the fishing vessel Purbeck Isle foundered 9 miles south of Portland Bill, England resulting in the loss of three crew.

Safety issues

  • the vessel was in poor material condition
  • the vessel was heavily loaded when it sank
  • Purbeck Isle probably sank as a result of rapid flooding following the catastrophic failure of its hull fastenings
  • it is likely that racking stresses acting on the vessel’s hull caused her hull fastenings to loosen, allowing the seams between one or more of her hull planks to open up


Three recommendations (2013/203, 2013/204 and 2013/205) have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency: the first, urging the immediate implementation of previously issued recommendations to ensure that fishing vessels’ health and safety legislation applies to all fishermen regardless of their employment status, and that EPIRBS are carried on all fishing vessels under 15m in length; the second, to introduce a more robust inspection regime for such fishing vessels; and the third, to mandate a minimum standard for the liferafts they are required to carry.

This report was published on 2 May 2013.

Published 23 January 2015