Person overboard from crabber Noronya with 1 loss of life

Location: 13nm north west of Orkney, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Noronya

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Fishing Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Noronya
Ship Owner Celtic Dawn Fishing Ltd
Port of Registry Kirkwall (K733)
Flag UK
Type Crabber
Built 2008
Construction Steel
Length Overall 18.46m
Gross Tonnage 138
Date/Time 09/10/2009, 0310 (UTC)
Location of incident Off Orkney
Incident Type Accident to person
Persons Onboard 6 crew
Injuries/Fatalities 1 crewman missing, presumed dead
Damage/Pollution None


The 18m crabber, Noronya, was fishing for brown crab and had returned to recover the remaining part of a string of creels which had been left after the backrope had broken during a previous attempt to haul it on board. Once the remaining part was recovered, it was spliced with the other part of the backrope to repair the string. The layout of the deck had been considered carefully, with a hopper set into the deck to store the backrope away from the working area, and barriers to separate the crew from the backrope as it was shot away. However, the spliced part of the backrope was left hanging over the safety barrier to stop it from becoming tangled as the rest of the backrope payed out.

Shortly after shooting away the marker buoys and weight, a crewman began toggling creels on to the backrope. Three creels were shot, when the crewman’s leg became caught in the bight of the backrope near the spliced repair. Despite the crew’s best efforts, he was dragged over the side. He was not wearing a lifejacket, and although there was an extensive search and rescue operation, his body could not be found.

Actions taken

The Chief Inspector has written to the owner and skipper, recognising their attempts to develop a safer system for shooting creels and congratulating them on their positive efforts. The method used to repair the splice introduced a new hazard, and the Chief Inspector has advised the owner to:

  • Reassess the risks associated with repairing the backrope, develop a better method of making repairs and make sure that crew follow this method.
  • Provide lifejackets and encourage crew to use them when they are working where there is a risk that they could fall, or be dragged into the water.
  • Modify the procedure for marking the position of the creels, so that the skipper can monitor the crew while they are working with the gear.
  • Make sure that skippers manage their work so that they and the crew can get adequate rest.

Published: November 2009

Published 23 January 2015