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Friday, April 9, 2021 

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Brancj (MAIB) has published its report into the flooding and sinking of trawler 'Ocean Quest' in August 2019, 70 miles north-east of Fraserburgh, Scotland.

On 18 August 2019 the UK-registered fishing vessel Ocean Quest was reported to be listing heavily to starboard and sinking. The cause was flooding to the engine room, the source of which has not been determined; however, the report considers it almost certainly to be the result of shell plating or hull weld failure. The crew tackled the flood with fixed and portable pumps but were not able to get the situation under control. The alarm had been raised as soon as the flood was discovered, the crew were well prepared for abandonment and all were rescued safely by a coastguard helicopter.

MAIB notes that flooding presents an immediate threat, and every effort must be made to pump out the floodwater. In this case, the crew followed their onboard routine for bilge pumping, which meant that sea suction valves were left partly open. This potentially restricted the bilge pumps’ effectiveness and, although this procedure may have been appropriate for bilge pumping, it was not appropriate during an emergency.

Ocean Quest’s crew had conducted regular abandon ship drills so were well prepared for that phase of the emergency, and all were rescued safely. The report notes that ultrasonic hull thickness measurement is only a sampling process and does not provide 100% coverage, so is not guaranteed to detect all areas of erosion.

Although no specific recommendations are made in the report; MAIB says it should serve as a reminder to fishing vessel crew of the importance of being prepared for flooding emergencies. A safety flyer to the fishing industry highlighting a number of the safety lessons has been produced.

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