Man overboard from stern trawler Constant Friend with loss of 1 life

Location: Kilkeel Harbour, Northern Ireland.

Accident Investigation Report 4/2018

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

MAIB investigation report 4-2018: Constant Friend

Access to fishing boat Constant Friend via Silver Harvester


At approximately 2342, on 23 September 2017 a Filipino crewman from the fishing vessel Constant Friend fell into the water at Kilkeel Harbour while attempting to board the boat. He had been ashore during the evening socialising and drinking alcohol and, when his crewmates returned to the boat he remained ashore drinking.

Constant Friend was berthed outboard of another fishing vessel and as the crewman attempted to climb over the deck rails he slipped and fell into the harbour. Despite a prompt rescue by his crewmates and the application of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), he succumbed to the effects of immersion and died in hospital several days later.

Safety lessons

  • the crewman’s consumption of alcohol is likely to have adversely affected his ability to judge risk and co-ordinate his movement, which combined with the adverse conditions probably caused him to fall

  • climbing over the guardrails to cross between boats carried inherent risk. A more focused risk assessment might have recognised the risk of falling overboard under differing circumstances and identified more comprehensive risk controls

  • prompt recovery of a casualty from the water, coupled with early medical intervention is vital. Dedicated man overboard rescue equipment coupled with a contact card for emergency services and training in first aid including CPR is crucial in saving lives


Recommendations (2018/109 and 2018/110) have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to revise its guidance on the safe means of access to fishing vessels, and to clarify the requirement, or otherwise, to seek Border Force authorisation before allowing non-European Economic Area fishing crew to proceed ashore for local leave.

Recommendations (2018/111 and 2018/112) have also been made to Constant Friend’s owner to take account of the increased risk of a crew member falling as a result of adverse environmental conditions when returning to the boat from shore leave, and to develop a contact card and procedure for crew use in dealing with emergency situations in port.

A safety flyer to the fishing industry highlighting a number of the safety lessons was produced for this report.

Published 21 March 2018