Man overboard from scallop dredger King Challenger with loss of 1 life

Location: 12 nautical miles south-west of Scalloway, Shetland Islands, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 5/2017

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

MAIB investigation report 5-2017: King Challenger

Photograph of fishing vessel King Challenger


On 23 June 2016, a deckhand on the scallop dredger King Challenger (BA 87), fell overboard from a scallop tipping door. He was not wearing a lifejacket. The vessel was 12 nautical miles south-west of Scalloway, Shetland Islands.

Following the accident, the owners of King Challenger prohibited their crews from climbing onto tipping doors without the use of a harness and lifeline, instructed all its skippers to conduct manoverboard drills on a monthly basis and purchased specialist equipment and implemented fleet-wide procedures for the recovery of an unconscious casualty from the water.

Safety lessons

  • working on open tipping doors of scallop dredgers without wearing a lifejacket and being secured by a lifeline
  • recognition of the risk of walking on the tipping doors
  • rescue of an unconscious casualty from the water
  • very short survival times due to cold water incapacitation at water temperatures below 15ºC


The vessel owners have been recommended (2017/106) to review the risk assessment for all the vessels in their fleet, paying particular attention to the risks associated with maintenance tasks. .

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

Published 2 March 2017