North West Wales

Criticism of fishing boat St Amant after death off Anglesey

A fisherman died after falling overboard from a boat which had deck walls lower than the minimum statutory height, says a report.

Steven Robertson fell from the scallop dredger St Amant off the coast of Anglesey on 13 January last year.

Mr Robertson, 25, of Dumfries and Galloway, was not wearing a lifejacket.

An exemption granted to the vessel for the size of its deck walls had not been reviewed, said the Marine Accident Investigation Branch report.

The written risk assessments for the vessel's operation were also inadequate, and precautions which might have prevented the accident were not put into practice, it was found.

The vessel was heading from Holyhead towards fishing grounds in Cardigan Bay when the accident happened.

Deck hand Mr Robertson was lost overboard between around 00:45 and 01:45 but nobody saw him fall in the water.

He was last seen on board the 58ft (17.7m) vessel around 1.2 miles (1.9km) west of Anglesey's South Stack at 00:45 but was not discovered missing until around 02:00.

Tripped or slipped

Despite an extensive search involving a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter, five RNLI lifeboats, other vessels and a police helicopter, Mr Robertson was not found.

The report said it was considered most likely that he fell over the deck walls. It was also possible he tripped or slipped on fishing gear or equipment stowed on the deck.

The investigation found that the boat had been given an exemption from complying with the minimum statutory bulwark, or deck wall, height requirements for fishing vessels.

But the arrangement that led to the initial decision to grant the exemption had not been reviewed in accordance with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) procedures.

The report said the MCA had since written to the St Amant's owner requiring the height of the vessel's bulwarks to be increased.

Hazard awareness

Recommendations have also been made to the MCA to review and clarify aspects of its survey and inspection policy for fishing vessels.

The investigation also found that a large proportion of the deficiencies which had been identified during previous surveys and inspections had never been confirmed as rectified.

The owner of the vessel has been recommended to take action to improve the safety of the working practices on board and the hazard awareness of the crew.

The report said the boat's owner, Nightvalley Limited, had stopped working with the skipper of the vessel at the time of the accident.

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