Sinking of a fishing boat linked to a broken hull

The sinking of a fishing vessel in the North Sea two years ago was “almost certainly the result of a hull plating failure or a hull weld”, an investigation concluded.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) discovered that the Ocean Quest sank 70 miles northeast of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, after an engine room flood on August 18, 2019.

Although the source of the flooding was not determined, the MAIB found the probable cause to be a failure of the hull plating or the hull weld under the main engine.

The report said the ailing vessel had “also undergone previous hull plating repairs after hull thickness surveys detected significant erosion.”

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The Ocean Quest crew of five could not bring the situation under control despite their best efforts with stationary and portable pumps, and they had to be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.

As soon as the flooding was discovered, they sounded the alarm and the report determined that they had followed the onboard routine for pumping out the bilge, meaning the sea suction valves were left partially open.

The MAIB says this “potentially limited the efficiency of the bilge pumps and, while this procedure may have been appropriate for bilge pumping, it was not appropriate in an emergency.”

No recommendation was made in the report, but he added: “This should nonetheless serve as a reminder to fishing vessel crews to prepare for flood emergencies.”

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