| Code: 108278 |

TIN news:   The UK MAIB in its latest Safety Digest reports an incident where a 17m stern trawler broached, capsized and sank about 100 miles off the north-east coast of England while on passage to its fishing grounds in heavy seas. Two of the crew were rescued about 3 hours later when the body of the skipper was also recovered; the other two crew have not been found.
The incident
The vessel, which had a non-watertight shelter aft of the wheelhouse, had left its home port the previous evening. At about 1100 the skipper, who was in the wheelhouse, suddenly shouted down to the crew of four, who were all in their bunks, that they should get up and get out as the vessel was going down. Two of the crew, wearing only tee shirts and shorts, escaped out of the accommodation and over the side rails as the vessel capsized. They then managed to climb onto the upturned hull from where they saw the skipper and another crewman, unresponsive, in the water.
The vessel’s EPIRB floated free and transmitted a distress signal, which was received at the UK’s search and rescue satellite receiving centre. However, the EPIRB was not fitted with an integral positioning capability and so the distress signal only gave the vessel’s name, but not its position. The correct position could not be confirmed until a number of satellites had passed within range of the beacon and triangulated its transmission. This took about 50 minutes.
The two crewmen remained on the upturned hull for about 30 minutes until the vessel sank under them. Two lifebuoys floated to the surface and the men used these to keep themselves afloat; neither of the vessel’s two liferafts surfaced.
The coastguard, having received information about the EPIRB distress, issued a “Mayday Relay” broadcast and, once they had obtained an accurate position, tasked a rescue helicopter, which arrived on scene 3 hours after the capsize. The two crewmen were rescued and, although suffering from hypothermia, made a full recovery. The skipper was also located and winched into the helicopter, but despite being given extended lifesaving treatment he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. The bodies of the remaining two crewmen have not been found.
Findings
An underwater survey of the wreck found that the vessel was upright on the seabed and intact with no visible signs of hull damage. Some of its freeing ports were found jammed and others were observed to have been modified and reduced in size. The survey also found that the hydrostatic releases on both liferaft canisters had activated correctly, but their painters led into the shelter deck. It was concluded that once released from their cradles, the liferaft canisters had been pulled, by in-rushing water, into the vessel’s shelter deck area during the capsize, from where they were unable to float free.
It is probable that the vessel broached and capsized in high following seas. Its stability, which would have reduced while the vessel was surf riding in these seas, was probably further reduced by entrapped water on deck. During the investigation it was calculated that the vessel would have become unstable when a foot of water covered its deck.
The vessel was 40 years old and was reported to have had good seakeeping qualities, yet its records showed a history of marginal stability compliance, and no inclining test had been completed in the previous 10 years.

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