The MAIB has published its Annual Report for last year with details about its activities and safety investigation work undertaken. In an extract from his Foreword, Capt Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Accidents at MAIB, said, “I am pleased to introduce MAIB’s annual report 2019. It was a busy and successful year for the Branch improving safety at sea by our sustained output of safety investigation reports, safety digests, safety bulletins, and wider industry engagement. The Branch raised 1222 reports of marine accidents and incidents and commenced 22 investigations in 2019, compared with 1227 reports and 23 investigations started in 2018. Tragically, 13 investigations involved loss of life.
Fishing vessel safety
Investigating commercial fishing vessel accidents continues to be a significant part of the Branch’s work, mainly as a result of fatalities and vessel losses. Six people lost their lives in marine accidents, the same number as in 2018. While this number appears low, given the small numbers of professional fishermen it represents, it is still a very high fatality rate compared to other UK industries. A great deal of effort has been expended by the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) to promote the wearing of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and in November 2018 the Maritime and
Coastguard Agency (MCA) published Marine Guidance Note 5881, making clear its expectation that fishermen wear PFDs on the working decks of fishing vessels. That none of the three fishermen who died in the water in 2019 were wearing PFDs is therefore of great concern. Based on recent figures, embedding this behavioural change could halve the fatality rate in the fishing industry.
In 2019 the Branch made 24 recommendations, of which 20 were promptly and fully accepted, indicating that the Branch continues to make targeted, proportionate recommendations. The MCA has continued its efforts to complete the actions required to enable recommendations to be closed. Many longstanding recommendations made to the Agency have finally been actioned, including a number aimed at reducing the fatality rate in the fishing industry.
Working with the FISG, the MCA has now developed a Fishing Strategy that addresses a number of MAIB recommendations that targeted PFD wear and accidents to persons. However, the elements of the strategy designed to improve small fishing vessel stability, still a contributory factor in many fatal accidents, remain outstanding.
Finally, and exceptionally, the outstanding recommendations made to Clipper Ventures plc have been withdrawn following the flagging to Malta of the company’s fleet of Clipper 70 yachts.
ECDIS safety study
The Safety Study into how Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) are being used at sea, being conducted in collaboration with the Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board, is nearing completion. The finishing touches have been delayed by the recent COVID-19 restrictions, but the study should be published during the autumn.
Change and consolidation
While the UK will continue to report marine casualties to the European Union (EU) until the end of the transition period, preparations have been underway to operate independently of EMSA. This has involved repatriating the UK’s historical accident data, some 42,000 cases, into a new database, which has been more time consuming and complicated than anticipated. During this transition, the Branch has had a limited ability to support external requests for data, and the decision has been taken to delay publication of the 2019 accident data until early in the autumn.
In order to assure that safety investigations are independent of marine regulation, agreement has been reached that the MAIB will carry out investigations into Very Serious Marine Casualties for the Red Ensign Group (REG) Category 1 registers of Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. This is an exciting development that will benefit the wider REG family, and the Branch has taken on two additional inspectors to undertake this important work.
A number of retirements and departures have occurred over the year that, alongside the uplift for REG investigations, have created opportunities for internal promotion and recruitment. In total, six new inspectors have joined the Branch since September. These include two nautical inspectors, two engineer inspectors (all experienced mariners), a naval architect inspector and a human factors inspector. Having a dedicated human factors specialist on the staff is a first for the MAIB, but it is considered essential as automation and decision support aids increasingly encroach on traditional human tasks.
Finally, approval has been obtained to increase the capability and capacity of the technical section so the Branch can keep abreast of technological developments and the increasing digitisation of the marine industry. While the MAIB will carry a training burden for a few months as all the new staff learn the ropes, as with the new case management system, the changes are forward-looking and designed to position the Branch well to investigate the accidents of the future as well as those of today”.
Download the full report: MAIBAnnualReport2019