The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report into the flooding, capsizing and foundering of the 16.7m prawn trawler Diamond D SN 100 on 16 August, 2020.
At around 3pm that day, the Diamond D started to capsize 20 nautical miles northeast of Tynemouth. The report says that the vessel suffered hull damage and water ingress while trying to uncross its wires.
The two crew – the skipper and the vessel owner – abandoned the vessel and boarded its liferaft. They were rescued unharmed by the Tynemouth RNLI all-weather lifeboat around one hour later.
The MAIB report says that around 7am that day, the trawler began to slow before coming to a stop. Initially, it was believed that the trawl gear had become fouled on the seabed. However, as the gear was being hauled, it was discovered that the wires had crossed.
Over the next two to three hours, attempts were made to uncross the wires. During this time, the trawl doors were heard hitting the vessel’s hull several times.
Investigators found that even though the wires were eventually freed, the vessel still struggled to haul the net. After a further two hours, the dog rope was brought onboard, led through a pulley on the starboard side of the gallows and attached to the starboard wire. By this point, the Diamond D had developed a starboard list of around 10°.
As the crew began to pull the net around to the starboard side, the list increased to around 20°. The decision was made to cut the dog rope to allow the net to return astern and hang off the net drum.
However, with the angle of the list unchanged, the net was cut away. The report says it was at this point, with the list still not reduced, that the crew began an inspection of the vessel.
On the discovery of a significant amount of water in the fishroom and forepeak store, the skipper radioed the Coastguard. As the trawler began to capsize, the crew abandoned the vessel for the liferaft.
The MAIB concluded that the Diamond D foundered because the flooding of the hull went unnoticed until it was too late. The report says it is ‘almost certain that the hull was damaged when it was hit by the trawl doors, which then allowed an ingress of seawater’.
The investigation also found that the vessel was operating with a reduced crew, and with the skipper and owner attempting to resolve the earlier issues, the wheelhouse was left unmanned for seven hours.
The report says that ‘had there been a third crew member onboard, the bilge alarms may have alerted the crew to the flooding of the hull’. “This could have given the crew time to use the additional pumping capacity available.”
The report goes on to praise the skipper’s ‘quick thinking’ when abandoning the vessel, saying his actions ‘almost certainly saved the lives of the two men’.
No specific recommendations are made in the report, although the MAIB says the accident should ‘serve as a reminder to fishing vessel crews to be prepared for flooding emergencies, to regularly check under waterline spaces and to wear PFDs at all times while working on deck’.
The full report can be read here.
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