Man overboard from potter Harvester resulting in vessel sinking with loss of 2 lives

Location: Abereiddy Bay, North Pembrokeshire.

Accident Investigation Report 22/2016

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened and safety lessons learned:

MAIB investigation report 22-2016: Harvester

Photograph of the fishing vessel Harvester
Harvester aground on East Sledge (Photograph courtesy of St David's RNLI)


At 1424 on 28 April 2016, the 11.6m potter Harvester grounded on rocks in Abereiddy Bay, North Pembrokeshire, and sunk a short time later. There was no indication of any crew on board at the time of the grounding. A large-scale search and rescue operation commenced and the body of a crew member was recovered from the water 3 miles from where Harvester had foundered. He was not wearing a lifejacket or other buoyancy aid. The second crew member has not been found despite an extensive search.

Safety lessons

  • the presumed system of work for shooting pots on Harvester did not sufficiently separate the crew from the running gear to prevent the accident
  • neither crew member was wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), significantly lowering their chances of survival
  • a personal locator beacon is a very useful additional means of raising the alarm particularly, as in this case, if no one is left on board and the only other means of raising the alarm remains on the vessel.
  • Harvester’s automatic identification system unit was switched off at the time of the accident. An historical track of the vessel’s movements would have been particularly valuable to those involved in the initial search and rescue operation


A recommendation has previously been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to make arrangements to rapidly introduce the compulsory wearing of personal flotation devices on the upper decks of all fishing vessels while at sea. No additional recommendations have been made in this report.

Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents.

A safety flyer highlighting a number of the safety issues was produced for this report.

A further 2 reports, Annie T (21/2016) and Apollo (23/2016), were published the same day because in all 3 accidents the fishermen might have survived had they been wearing PFDs when they entered the water.

MAIB has also conducted a review of lifejacket/PFD use by fishermen. This document was originally published as part of the annexes to the Annie T (21/2016) report.

Published 3 November 2016