Man overboard from stern trawler Illustris with loss of 1 life

Location: Royal Quays Marina, North Shields, England.

Accident Investigation Report 15/2018

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

MAIB investigation report 15-2018: Illustris

Illustris alongside another fishing vessel


At about 2246 on 12 November 2017, a deckhand on the fishing vessel Illustris entered the water after probably falling overboard. He had spent the afternoon and evening ashore and had just returned to the vessel. The deckhand’s fall was not witnessed, and he was not missed until the following day. The postmortem examination report indicated a probable cause of death as drowning, with a contribution of acute alcohol toxicity.

Safety lessons

  • the deckhand’s high levels of alcohol are likely to have adversely affected his risk perception, reaction time and co-ordination, which might have caused him fall. The deckhand’s fall was not witnessed which made a prompt rescue impossible

  • living on board a fishing vessel carries additional risks with alcohol consumption

  • while limited alcohol consumption may be acceptable in port, there is a need to ensure that it does not compromise the safety of those crew who need to return to their vessels after an evening ashore


Illustris’s owner, Sagittarius Fishing Co Ltd, is recommended (2018/122) to take account of the hazards associated with crew members proceeding to and from shore for recreational activities, and to establish a formal drug and alcohol policy.

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

Published 9 August 2018