Person overboard from gill netter Ocean Spray with 1 person injured

Location: 18nm south-south-west of Newlyn, England.

Completed PE Summary: Ocean Spray

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Vessel name:   Ocean Spray
Registered owner:   Private owner
Port of registry:   Penzance
Flag:   UK
Type:   Gill netter
Built:   1990, Polruan, Cornwall
Construction:   Wood
Registered Length:   11.96m
Gross tonnage:   26.12
Date & Time:   9 December 2009, 1930 UTC
Location of incident:   18nm south-south-west of Newlyn, England
Incident Type:   Man Overboard
Persons on board:   3
Injuries:   Fractured rib; soft tissue damage to legs and arms
Damage/pollution:   None


The Gill netter Ocean Spray was shooting the last of her ten nets when a problem with the fishing gear was seen by the deckhand on the port side of the working deck. To rectify the problem, the deckhand moved aft into the area containing the rope joining the net to its anchor, and became snagged by the rope as it payed out. He was pulled towards the vessel’s port gunwale until pinned against the safety rail by the net’s anchor.

The skipper immediately throttled back the engine, at which point the deckhand was catapulted overboard, along with the anchor. The deckhand was dragged underwater where, although injured, he managed to free himself from the anchor and rope, and surface close to the vessel. The skipper and the other deckhand then pulled him back on board, aided by the rolling of the vessel.

The vessel immediately headed for Newlyn, where the skipper had arranged for an ambulance to meet on arrival by dialing the emergency services from his mobile telephone. The coastguard was made aware of the accident by the ambulance controller, and the Penzance lifeboat was activated. The lifeboat escorted Ocean Spray into Newlyn where the injured deckhand was transferred to an ambulance and taken to Treliske hospital in Truro.

Actions taken

The Deputy Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the owner/skipper commending him for his actions in recovering his deckhand back on board. He has also advised that he consider how this accident could have been prevented, and how to improve the chances of a person falling overboard surviving such an ordeal, taking into account the safety issues identified.

Published: 20 January 2010

Published 23 January 2015