Marine Accident Investigation Branch
Accident Investigation Report 12/2020
Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned and action taken:
At about 1550 on 23 September 2019, the 6.2m fishing vessel, Anna-Marie II, capsized as it entered the mouth of the Brora river while returning from its fishing grounds. The vessel broached and was capsized in unusually high waves, resulting in both its skipper and crewman entering the water. Neither was wearing a personal flotation device; the crewman managed to swim ashore but unfortunately the skipper drowned.
Our investigation determined that the skipper struck his head during the capsize, which may have affected his ability to swim. Had the skipper been wearing a lifejacket it would have helped keep his head out of the water and might have increased his likelihood of survival.
Crossing a river bar in a small boat can be extremely hazardous, particularly at low tide in large swells. The skippers extensive knowledge of the local conditions did not prevent him being caught out by the size of the waves, which were hard to judge from out at sea and not evident in any forecasts.
Open fishing vessels have a higher risk of capsizing, particularly in steep waves, compared with decked vessels and so it is important that fishermen reduce the risk of broaching and capsize by taking suitable precautions and prepare for a capsize happening.
The wearing of personal floatation devices is now mandatory following the significant numbers of fishermen who have drowned following fishing vessel accidents. The benefits of wearing a PFD by far outweigh any secondary risks such as entrapment and further precautions can be taken to minimise that risk.
No recommendations have been made as a result of this investigation.
A safety flyer to the fishing industry highlighting a number of the safety lessons was produced for this report.