Person overboard from RNLI inshore lifeboat Kinghorn with 1 person injured

Location: Off Kirkcaldy, Fife Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Kinghorn ILB

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel name Kinghorn ILB
Registered Owner/Manager Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Port of registry RNLI HQ Poole
Flag UK
Type Inshore lifeboat (ILB)
Built 1995
Construction Rigid Inflatable Boat
Length Overall 7.3m
Displacement 1.8 tonnes
Date/Time 15/07/2007, 1044
Location of Incident Off Kirkcaldy
Incident Type Accident to person
Persons Onboard 4
Injuries/fatalities 1 severely injured
Damage/Pollution None


Kinghorn ILB was conducting a routine exercise in fine, calm weather. The vessel was moving at between 20 and 25 knots conducting a series of fast turns to port and starboard. A crewmember, seated on the port sponson near the centre console, fell overboard during a turn to starboard. He was struck on the head at least three times by the propellers, piercing his protective helmet in two places. The boat was quickly turned round and the casualty was recovered back onboard.

The crew reported the accident to the Coastguard and requested an ambulance to meet the ILB as it returned to the beach. The location was not described precisely and led to some confusion between the Coastguard and Ambulance controllers over where the the ambulance should be sent. The ambulance was unable to cross the beach to meet the ILB and the casualty was transferred using a Coastguard vehicle. The casualty suffered severe head injuries.

Action taken

The RNLI undertook their own investigation immediately after the accident and as a result, have reviewed and where necessary revised their operational procedures for conducting high speed manoeuvres in ILBs. It has been emphasised that, when practicing high speed turns, all crew must be properly seated and secure at all times.

The RNLI has reinforced its instructions to helmsmen, reminding them of the need to assess and minimise the risk to personnel during exercises.

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the RNLI, strongly advising that they:

  • Develop a more structured format for planning and authorising routine exercises to ensure that Lifeboat Operations Managers, Launching Authorities and Lifeboat Crew always give serious consideration to the range of relative risks presented by different activities conducted during the exercise

  • Improve procedures to identify and use pre-arranged landing or rendezvous points for transferring casualties to other branches of the emergency services

Published 23 January 2015