Capsizing and sinking of fishing vessels - Lessons learned from the occurrences involving the UK-165 Lummetje and the UK-171 Spes Salutis
On 28 November 2019, the trawler UK-165 Lummetje was lost in coastal waters near Texel. The occurrence cost the lives of the two crew members on board. In response to this occurrence, the Dutch Safety Board launched an investigation.
During the investigation, another occurrence involving a trawler took place. In December 2020, the UK-171 Spes Salutis capsized and sank to the north of Schiermonnikoog. All persons on board were rescued. It rapidly became clear that there was a real possibility that similar underlying causes and factors led to both occurrences. At the moment of the occurrence involving the UK-171, it had already emerged from the investigation into the occurrence with the UK-165 that the UK-165 first capsized before sinking. For that reason, the Safety Board decided to combine the investigations into both occurrences.
Structural solutions needed for risks to beam trawlers
On 28 November 2019, the trawler UK-165 Lummetje was lost in coastal waters near Texel. The two crew members lost their lives. The investigation revealed that the fishing boat first capsized before sinking. In December 2020, while the investigation into the UK-165 was underway, the UK-171 Spes Salutis also capsized. The three-men crew of this boat were scarcely able to be rescued. These two occurrences made it clear that on fishing boats of this type, stability can be rapidly and dangerously compromised as a consequence of asymmetric loading conditions. This finding was reinforced by calculating the stability in asymmetric loading conditions of the TX-21 Pieter van Aris, a different type of fishing boat.
Real risk of capsizing due to asymmetric loading conditions
The fact that under asymmetric loading conditions stability decreases is not in itself new. However the fact that stability can be compromised so rapidly and dangerously was a surprise. It increases the risk of capsizing. These realizations led the Safety Board to publish an interim warning in April 2021, ahead of today’s publication. The aim of this warning was to inform the crews of similar trawlers to the UK-165 and UK-171 as quickly as possible of this risk, to allow them to take the appropriate action.
Certification process for beam trawlers
In response to the warning, the fishery sector took immediate action. In addition to informing trawler crews and other parties involved in sea fishing in the Netherlands, work was started on developing structural solutions to mitigate this risk.
In the certification process for beam trawlers, asymmetric loading conditions are not included in stability calculations. In its report, the Dutch Safety Board recommends that the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management rectifies this situation in the future, as indeed specified by law. In addition, the Safety Board has issued a series of recommendations that should bring about preventive measures, knowledge development and alterations to ship design for current and future fishing boats. However, awareness of the safety risk remains essential, at all times.
Broader study needed into entire trawler fleet
The investigation published today focuses on beam trawlers with a length of less than 24 metres. The Safety Board recommends that the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management launches a broader investigation, with a view to increasing the safety benefits for the entire Dutch fishing fleet. The aim of this investigation should be to map out the safety risk of asymmetric loading conditions on trawlers of all lengths.
To the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management:
1. Recognize that asymmetric loading conditions occur regularly on beam trawlers and that the stability of these vessels can be considerably less favourable than in symmetric loading conditions. On that basis, calculate and analyse the stability in asymmetric loading conditions as part of the legal certification process.
2. Ensure full compliance with the statutory obligations to include in the stability book loading conditions that have an unfavourable influence on vessel stability, and provide specific relevant instructions. Do this by also including asymmetric loading conditions in the stability book. Involve the fishery sector in drawing up these specific relevant instructions.
3. Investigate the scale of the safety risk of the capsizing and sinking of trawlers as a result of dangerous asymmetric loading conditions within the entire Dutch trawler fleet. Include all fishing vessels in this investigation, irrespective of their length. Take measures to counter this safety risk.
To the Fishery Sector Council Foundation (Stichting Sectorraad Visserij):
4. Ensure that crews of beam trawlers with a length of less than 24 metres receive structural information on the risk of dangerous instability in the event of asymmetric loading conditions. Assist the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management in drawing up specific relevant instructions which must be included in the stability book in the event of loading conditions with an unfavourable influence on vessel stability.
The competences necessary to enable crew members to recognize and prevent dangerous asymmetric loading conditions are not a fixed element of fishery training programmes. To improve the potential for response by (future) skippers, the Safety Board issues the following recommendation.
To the Foundation for Cooperation on Vocational Education, Training and Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven) and Industry and the Fishery Sector Council Foundation:
5. Ensure that within fishery training programmes, attention is focused explicitly on the safety risk of asymmetric loading conditions and how to respond in practice to manage this risk. Include this in the teaching material, for example.
In addition to improving the potential for response by skippers, it is equally important that safety gains be achieved through improvements in vessel design. For that reason, parties within the maritime manufacturing industry must also be involved in preventing the safety risk of asymmetric loading conditions on fishing vessels. These parties include shipyards, shipbuilders and ship designers. In the Netherlands, all these parties can be reached via the sector organization Netherlands Maritime Technology.
To Netherlands Maritime Technology:
6. Ensure that parties in the maritime manufacturing industry are informed of the safety risk of dangerous instability in the event of asymmetric loading conditions. Arrive at a situation in which these parties contribute to preventing this safety risk by including the principle of maintaining stability in asymmetric loading conditions in the design, construction and conversion of fishing vessels, and fishing equipment.
- Fishing ship
- Fishing ship