NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Boat safety failures led to death of fisherman in North Sea

Image caption The fisherman had been working on the Banff-registered Aquarius

Safety failures led to the the death of a crewman who was thrown from a North Sea trawler, a report has said.

Nuertey Annang, 47, from Ghana, was knocked from the Banff-registered Aquarius off Aberdeen, near Girdleness Lighthouse, in August last year.

He was not wearing a lifejacket, and sank out of view.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report said the vessel's crew had not been adequately prepared to deal with emergency situations.

Mr Annang was struck by a piece of equipment and thrown overboard.

A major air and sea search was only launched after the alarm was raised when he disappeared from view.

'Shouted encouragement'

The MAIB said the accident could have been avoided if risks had been properly assessed, and the catching of fish had not been a priority over safety.

The report said: "The energy with which the crewman was lifted off the deck and catapulted overboard would almost certainly have severely stunned and disorientated him, and was probably sufficient to cause internal injuries.

"Nevertheless, Annang was alive when he entered the water and was able to keep himself afloat for several minutes.

"When the crew raised the alarm the skipper's initial reaction was to focus on monitoring Annang's position in the water, and manoeuvring Aquarius astern towards him.

"The crew threw lifebuoys towards their crew mate in the water and shouted encouragement, but despite these efforts Annang soon succumbed and sank below the surface of the water."

Image caption An extensive search was launched

The MAIB said that about 15 minutes after the crewman landed in the water, having realised the attempts to rescue him had failed, the skipper used his mobile phone to raise the alarm.

The report explained: "The actions taken by the skipper and his crew to recover the casualty were not in line with the guidance provided by the MCA for a man overboard situation, and fell well short of standard responses taught on training courses.

"Of particular note, the alarm was not raised until after the crewman had sunk below the surface of the water."

'Repetitive nature'

It went on: "The Maritime and Coastguard Agency had surveyed and inspected Aquarius on numerous occasions during the previous nine years.

"It had identified Aquarius as a poorly run vessel and issued it with 137 deficiencies; many of these related to safety management and were of a repetitive nature.

"The underlying factors that contributed to this accident included: a total lack of proactive safety management; a poor level of onboard safety culture; and the crew suffering from tiredness and fatigue.

"Recommendations have been made to the owners of Aquarius, the vessel's manning agency and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

"These are aimed at improving the levels of safety management and emergency preparedness on board Aquarius; the working conditions and hours of rest for non-UK nationals on board UK flagged fishing vessels; and the capability of the electronic systems used by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to manage and monitor deficiencies and poor performing fishing vessels."

More than 10 vessels were involved in the search, including tugs, rig vessels, merchant vessels and fishing boats.

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