Man overboard from stern trawler Apollo with loss of 1 life

Location: Off the Orkney Islands, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 23/2016

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

MAIB investigation report 23-2016: Apollo

Photograph of stern trawler Apollo


At 0630 on 18 April 2016, a crewman fell overboard from the stern of the 23.95m fishing vessel Apollo while the nets were being hauled. The weather was rough at the time of the accident and the crewman was not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). An extensive search was carried out by coastguard helicopters, military aircraft and Apollo’s crew. The crewman’s body was found nearly 4 months later.

Safety lessons

  • the vessel lacked a safe system of work for hauling in the nets
  • following a previous fatal man overboard in 2007 the crew had been required to wear lifejackets. However, the practice had fallen into disuse and lifejackets had not been worn for several years despite constant wear lifejackets being available on board
  • fishermen generally lack awareness of the debilitating effects of cold water immersion, specifically cold shock and cold incapacitation
  • no practical man overboard drills had been carried out on board


Recommendations (2016/148 and 2016/149) have been made to the vessel’s owner that are designed to ensure that realistic manoverboard drills are carried out and that the crew do not place themselves in exposed locations during fishing operations.

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 Harvester (22/2016), 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