Snagging, capsize and sinking of twin trawler Radiant with loss of 1 life

Location: Approximately 45 miles north-west of the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 2/2003

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

radiant.pdf (895.61 kb)


In the late evening of 10 April 2002, the fishing vessel Radiant was fishing about 45 miles north-west of the Isle of Lewis. While trying to free the fishing gear from an underwater obstruction (fastener), the vessel capsized and foundered at about 2225 UTC. During the abandonment, one of the crew was lost, the other five were successfully rescued. Five of the crew were wearing lifejackets, but only one inflated properly. The crewman who was lost was wearing one of those that was defective.

Safety Issues

  • four out of five of the inflatable lifejackets used by the crew failed to inflate because the gas cylinders were not attached to the release units
  • if the skipper had been familiar with the hydraulic emergency start facility, he would have used this, and this might have enabled the load on the port winch to be released
  • the port engine air intakes should have been considered as downflooding points, this would have highlighted their vulnerability


The suppliers of the winch control system (the PTS Pentagon system) have been recommended to put more emphasis on the emergency start facility when training fishermen in its use also, the suppliers have been recommended to enable the safety brake when configuring PTS Pentagon systems.

The port engine air intakes were not taken as a downflooding point when assessing the vessel’s stability. For operational reasons this is not considered practical, so a recommendation on this has been made to the MCA. Radiant was fitted with powerful winches, which were capable of seriously compromising stability if fishing gear became snagged. For similar vessels, a notice should be shown in bold print, near the front of the stability book, warning skippers of this danger. A recommendation has been made to the MCA addressing this point.

A recommendation has been made to the builders of Radiant and Resplendent to consider this carefully when they are constructing fishing vessels in the future.

Radiant’s sister vessel Resplendent is fitted with port engine air intakes in a similar position. A recommendation has therefore been made to her owner to consider raising them and/or moving them further inboard.

This report was published in January 2003.

Published 23 January 2015