The Spring 2021 Safety Digest has been published by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. It features 25 case studies involving a range of vessels and accidents. The Safety Digest talks through each scenario and reveals the lessons that arise from each case.
Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Andrew Moll, writes in his welcome and introduction “I would like to start by thanking Fran Collins, David Fuller and Roger Brydges for writing the introductions to the merchant, fishing and leisure sections of this Digest. Their perspectives on maritime safety make compelling reading.
At the MAIB, we try to keep our safety messages fresh. However, the articles in the Safety Digests are drawn from the cases reported, and all too often this means seeing the same sorts of accidents time and time again. Consequently, this edition contains accidents we have seen many times before involving safe means of access, suspended loads, noxious atmosphere and man overboard recovery. As mariners we take pride in our ability to get the job done, but many of the accidents reported here could have been avoided had those involved taken a little more time to assess the risks before getting on with the job. The old sailor’s adage of ‘one hand for yourself and the other for the ship’ is still valid today: doing your job should not involve putting yourself in danger.
I have made the point before that accidents often come in batches. However, after a prolonged period during which there were no fatal accidents in the UK’s commercial fishing sector, the spate of such accidents over the winter months is concerning. Small fishing vessels can be extremely vulnerable both to capsize and to being overwhelmed by heavy seas, and 5 of the 7 fishermen lost over the winter months were likely trapped when their vessels suddenly and without warning capsized. The MAIB’s reports into these recent accidents will follow, but I make no apology for again asking owners and skippers of small fishing boats to make a proper assessment of their vessel’s stability and of the loads it can safely carry.
For Northern hemisphere leisure boaters, Spring has arrived, better weather is expected, and for many there is a feeling of hope that the worst of the COVID restrictions are perhaps behind us and we can get on with some serious boating. In the autumn 2020 issue of the Safety Digest, I made the point that there had been some terrible tragedies over the summer, and I encouraged all leisure boaters to take advantage of the winter months to refresh their knowledge, carry out the inevitable maintenance tasks, and to plan how best to start the 2021 boating season. With the freedom to resume boating still some weeks away, I make no apologies for repeating that advice. One of my favourite quotes is by the English businessman Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE, which is as follows:
Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
When restrictions are eased and the sun is shining the temptation to get afloat will be immense. Please make the most of these last few weeks of enforced inactivity to properly plan and prepare for this year’s boating. I am quite sure you will not regret it.”
Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Accidents, Marine Accident Investigation Branch
Download the Safety Digest: 2021-SD1-MAIBSafetyDigest