Snagging, capsize and sinking of trawler Harvest Hope

Location: 40 miles north-east of Peterhead, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 21/2006

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

Harvest Hope.pdf (1,374.10 kb)

Harvest Hope - Annexes A to H (2,666.61 kb)

Harvest Hope - Annexes I to N (3,551.75 kb)

Harvest Hope - Annexes O to FF (2,808.68 kb)


At around 1630 on 28 August 2005, the UK-registered trawler, Harvest Hope came fast while trawling in the vicinity of seabed pipelines, approximately 40 miles north-east of Peterhead. The aft net drum space immediately began to flood through the port transom door, which had been inadvertently left open from the previous voyage. A port list quickly developed, which worsened as more water poured in through the transom door. The crew immediately tried to close the open door using the hydraulic ram, but this became damaged by a green sea, and the door could not be closed.

As the port list increased, main hydraulic power was lost, resulting in the brakes on the vessel’s automatic trawl winch system activating. With no safe and easy means of releasing these brakes, the vessel was effectively anchored to the seabed on the port side. Although the trawl warps were cut with an electric grinder, the vessel’s condition failed to improve. Despite some difficulties, the crew managed to deploy the starboard liferaft, and as the list critically increased, the crew abandoned into the liferaft, around 15 minutes after first coming fast. Shortly afterwards, the vessel capsized, and sank by the stern. Not all of the crew had been able to put on their lifejackets. A nearby fishing vessel, Fruitful Bough had responded to the earlier “Mayday” issued by Harvest Hope, and safely recovered the crew at about 1700, returning to Peterhead later that day.`

Safety Issues

The vessel’s as-built displacement was greater than originally designed, due to the addition of large amounts of solid ballast for stability purposes. This resulted in minimal aft freeboard which did not comply with the relevant regulations. A dispensation had therefore been granted by the MCA, based on obsolete and uncontrolled guidance.


Recommendations have been made to RAPP Hydema, manufacturers of the automatic trawl winch system fitted on Harvest Hope. These relate to the development of a quick release mechanism for the “fail safe brake” mechanism, in an emergency, and the review of information, training and guidance provided to fishermen, on the system.

This report was published on 15 August 2006.

Published 23 January 2015