Inadvertent launching of lifeboat from coastal products tanker Solent Fisher

Location: Off Plymouth, England.

Completed PE Summary: Solent Fisher

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Solent Fisher
Registered Owner/Manager James Fisher & Sons Ltd
Port of Registry Nassau
Flag Bahamas
Type Tanker
Built 1997
Classification Society Lloyd’s Register
Construction Steel
Length Overall 91m
Gross Tonnage 3368
Date/Time 29/11/2005, 1318
Location of Incident Off Plymouth, 50°22.0N 004°09.0W
Incident Type Hazardous incident
Persons Onboard 9 crew
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution None


The coastal products tanker Solent Fisher was at anchor in Milford Haven when it was decided to carry out a simulated lifeboat drill using the secondary manual system to prove that the lifeboat’s release mechanism was functional. The drill was completed and the lifeboat was left, in what was believed to have been, the standby condition.

Two days later, after a rough passage, the vessel was approaching its berth, 50% astern power was applied resulting in vibration throughout the after end of the vessel. Shortly afterwards the lifeboat was inadvertently launched.

It was found that the system had not been operated in accordance with the instructions, the drill was poorly managed and the signage in the lifeboat was confusing, especially regarding the standby condition of the lifeboat.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector wrote to Schat-Harding Ltd, the lifeboat and release equipment manufacturer, for details of their proposed Product Awareness Notice (PAN). The PAN, which is to be sent to affected customers will clarify the instructions and checks to be made to ensure the lifeboat is in the correct standby condition.

As a result of the examination the owners, James Fisher Ltd have:

  • Specified the procedures to be followed for a simulated launch

  • Established a check and signature system to ensure that the lifeboat is in the correct standby condition.

  • Issued revised instructions on the conduct of drills

Published 23 January 2015