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An investigation into the death of a Galway fisherman who became entangled in gear off Salthill last year has found the weather deteriorated “significantly” after the vessel which he fished with his father left the harbour.

Tom Oliver (37), a relative of the Olivers who rescued two paddleboarders in Galway Bay in August 2020, died after he was dragged over the stern of the six-metre fishing vessel Myia on November 2nd 2020.

His father Martin, who was almost 62, was found dead at home the following morning.

After the incident, the then Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard paid tribute to the two men as “salt of the earth” and “the best of friends”.

Cubbard noted that it was only a few weeks since he had recognised the role of their relatives, Patrick and Morgan Oliver, in rescuing paddleboarders Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn after 15 hours at sea.

Several generations of the Oliver family have been associated with the RNLI lifeboat service, and members of the RNLI and the fishing communities along the coast and on the Aran Islands were among hundreds who attended the funeral of the father and son.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the incident said that “violent movements” generated by the worsening sea conditions while feeding out shrimp pots may have been a contributory factor.

The use of a mobile phone to generate a distress call, instead of a Mayday call over VHF radio, “added some delay, however short, in the alert of the emergency services”, the report found.

The report said a Mayday call over VHF radio would have been picked up immediately by Valentia Coast Guard, leading to immediate activation of the lifeboat crew pagers.

It said that activation of a personal locator beacon, which can be fitted to a PFD or lifejacket, would also have triggered an instant distress call.

It said the casualty was not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket while operating on an open deck in hazardous conditions.

“Wearing a suitably specified and fitted PFD would have greatly improved his chances of survival,” the report stated.

The report noted that the crew were very experienced at potting in the Galway Bay area, and had been working on the twin-hulled vessel FV Myia for ten years, fishing lobster in summer and shrimp during the winter.

The report said that the weather “deteriorated considerably between the time the vessel left the harbour at midday on November 2nd, 2020, and the time of the incident.

“As seen in the Met Éireann weather report at the time of the incident there were near gale force winds, heavy rainfall, and rough seas,” it said.

“ These conditions were extremely challenging for a vessel of this size and construction and would have led to violent movements,” it said.

It noted that there are no manufacturers recommendations on the operational limitations of this type of vessel, and the manufacturing company is no longer in existence.

The report recalled that at approximately 1.30 pm, the men were resetting a train of pots when Tom Oliver got entangled in rope attached to the train of pots.

“ The weight of the train of pots combined with the forward motion of the vessel quickly pulled him overboard and under the water,” it said.

The Galway RNLI lifeboat operations manager was contacted by mobile phone, and he requested activation of pagers for an immediate launch of the inshore lifeboat.

It arrived quickly on the scene, and the lifeboat crew found the casualty caught in ropes and unconscious in the water.

The lifeboat crew got the casualty on board and immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It requested an ambulance, which met it at the lifeboat station.

Tom Oliver was brought to Galway University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The lifeboat then launched again to escort the fishing vessel Myia back to the harbour.

The MCIB recommends that the Minister for Transport should issue marine notices reminding fishing crew of the obligation to wear a PFD while working on open decks, and of the dangers associated with snagging in gear while setting trains of pots.

It also recommends that the minister issue marine notices to encourage use of VHF radio for distress calls, to point out the limitations of mobile phones for this purpose, and to advise fishers to know the limitations of vessels and to be aware always of weather forecasts before going to sea.

Published in MCIB

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has today (Thursday 11 November) announced the publication of the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2021, which provides for a number of amendments to the legislation that underpins the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

Changes will facilitate the appointment of new members to the board and are aimed at supporting its independent functioning as the State’s marine casualty investigative body.

The move follows a Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment in July 2020 concerning the independence of the MCIB, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

“The bill is being progressed to ensure the continued independent functioning of the MCIB in the immediate term as the marine investigative body in the State and to meet international and EU requirements to have an independent marine casualty investigative body in place,” Minister Ryan said.

Separate to the bill, the Department of Transport said it is reviewing organisational structures for marine casualty investigation in Ireland which may lead to further legislative change.

However, as the minister noted: “There is an immediate need for the current bill to fill board vacancies and in particular to ensure that the quorum requirements for board meetings are met.”

The text of the bill is available on the Oireachtas website and a Regulatory Impact Analysis on the bill is available from Gov.ie.

Published in MCIB
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The MCIB was established in 2002 under the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000. The purpose of the MCIB is to investigate marine casualties with a view to learning lessons to prevent them happening again. It is not the purpose of an investigation to attribute fault or blame. The MCIB invites applications from suitably qualified investigators to carry out contracted marine casualty investigations on behalf of the Board.

To date, the MCIB has published approximately 243 accident investigation reports and now wishes to engage additional investigators to carry out accident investigations on its behalf and to develop reports for the MCIB.

Details about the MCIB, its annual reports and its investigation reports can be accessed at www.mcib.ie.

An investigator will be selected to carry out an investigation based on the competencies needed to carry out the investigation. The role of the investigator will include:

o Investigating under warrant marine casualties in accordance with the relevant legislation including the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000, the IMO Code, EU Directive 2009/18/EC incorporated into Irish laws by S.I. 276 of 2011 – European Communities (Merchant Shipping) (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations 2011 and the EU Common Methodology.

  • Preparing and submitting draft reports to the MCIB in accordance with the requirements of Annex 1 of EC2009/18/EC, and the MCIB Style Guide.
  • Addressing any matters raised by the MCIB.
  • Addressing any matters resulting from the consultation procedure set out in Section 36 of The Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000, which the MCIB refers to the investigator.
  • Working with the MCIB to conclude investigations and create reports that achieve the objectives of the MCIB.
  • Carrying out other investigator type functions as may be determined by the MCIB from time to time including acting as a support or providing assistance to the investigator appointed under warrant, and/or co-operating on another investigation or report.

For more information, and to apply, see www.etenders.gov.ie and search ID number 201227. or click here. The closing date for applications is Tuesday 30th November at 16.00 hrs.

Published in MCIB
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An investigation into an incident where a party of 15 kayakers encountered difficulties during a round trip from Bulloch harbour to Dalkey island on Dublin Bay last September has found that “disregard for Met Éireann forecasts” contributed to a decision to embark on a “potentially unsafe tour”.

All kayakers returned or were rescued in the incident which occurred on the evening of September 13th, 2020, but one of the kayakers was in the water for 40 minutes and unable to return independently.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report published yesterday (October 28th) notes that while a small craft warning was not in place earlier that evening, it was in place by the time the group was setting out to sea.

The MCIB says that an” apparent complete disregard” for the instructor training regime run by Canoeing Ireland (CI), the national governing body for kayaking, “seems to have contributed to the decision to embark on a potentially unsafe tour”.

A photo of two canoes ashore at Bulloch Harbour contained in the MCIB reportA photo of two canoes ashore at Bulloch Harbour from the MCIB report

The party of 15 kayakers involved three instructors and 12 participants on a guided kayak coastal trip from Bulloch Harbour to Dalkey Island and back of approximately 2.86 nautical miles.

Both kayaks with cockpits and “sit-on-top” kayaks were used, the report says.

After leaving Bulloch harbour, the kayakers became separated into two groups with a “small group drifting northwards” and a “large group” making its way “(eventually) to the north end of Loreto Convent”.

Three “999” calls alerted the rescue services to the incident, recording "concern on the part of members of the public that the kayakers were struggling”.

The calls said that “some had become separated from the main group and were drifting towards Dublin harbour; that one seemed to have capsized; that a kayaker appeared to be in the water; that the instructors were rushing to assist; that the “small boat” (presumably a reference to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution inshore lifeboat should be sent to assist; and that the kayakers were in trouble”.

One of the kayakers capsized three times. An Irish Coast Guard ((ICG) rescue helicopter, RNLI all weather (ALB) and inshore (ILB) lifeboats and a land-based Irish Coast Guard crew responded, as did the tour organiser who paddled out to bring a group of nine kayakers ashore at Loreto College. However, in emails to the MCIB investigator, the organiser says her concern for the group's safety was "nothing to do with my tour or the conditions".

"It was caused in its entirety by the disruption to their equilibrium with the sudden and unnecessary arrival in our space of the ICG search and rescue helicopter, the RNLI ALB and the ILB lifeboats and the ICG land-based vehicle," she states.

"The approaching tsunami of rescue services swarming around my guests suggested an urgent and imminent danger where none existed," she stated by email.

The investigation was unable to determine the precise level of skills of all instructors, and notes that at least two of the participants did not have sufficient experience for the conditions.

It says “the qualifications ascribed by the organiser’s observations to one or other of the instructors (kayaking level 3 sea skills, kayaking level 4 training and kayaking level 2 instructor) “did not meet the appropriate qualifications recommended by CI for an instructor taking out a group in conditions similar to those which were encountered on the tour”.

The weather report was noted moderate to fresh winds of Beaufort force 4 or 5.

It says the organiser’s observations did not refer to the Code of Practice for safe operation of recreational craft, and the report says “it is reasonable to assume that no regard was had to its contents” and that this contributed to the decision to embark on a “potentially unsafe tour”.

A fisherman who assisted one of the two groups of kayakers recalled that local conditions were such that the combination of an ebb tide with wind from the south/south west had the effect of wind against tide giving rise to “white horses” and a sea swell of approximately 1.5 metre, the report says.

“While this contradicts the data evident from the tidal streams... challenging sea conditions were encountered,” it says.

It says the overall ratio of participants to instructors was in keeping with that identified by CI’s website, namely a ratio of 1:4.

The report says two of the participants indicated that no warnings were given to them that they would become immersed in the water, and that “they were not told what to do in the event of their becoming immersed in the water”.

It says the fisherman “noted that the female kayakers whom he took on board were tired, cold, wet and fatigued and would not have made it ashore on their own”.

The report says that one of these was “in an uncontrolled situation in and out of the water for a period of approximately 40 minutes”.

This participant told the report of feeling “in deep water” shortly after leaving the calm of Bulloch harbour “in the sense that she believed she had no control over the direction of her kayak and that the waves were taking her where they wanted”.

She “recalled being terrified, not being able to speak and having to try to attract the attention of the instructors by waving her hands”.

A big wave flipped her over and her personal flotation device “burst open”, but still remained on her upper body.

She was separated from her kayak for a time, swallowed sea water when swimming back to it, and was “coughing and expending energy” in a bid to keep her head above water, before being assisted.

Two instructors were unsuccessful in addressing the situation, it says, and when the third instructor arrived – leaving the larger group unsupervised, or supervised by the organiser who had to paddle out to them – the kayaker described having to be held in her craft by that instructor.

She was treated by two ambulance paramedics on her arrival back at Bulloch harbour, and recalled they were concerned with the amount of sea water she had swallowed.

The larger group drifted towards rocks, and the organiser paddled out to meet them. The report quotes a participant in this larger group recalling that when they disembarked on the rocks, an Irish Coast Guard officer instructed them to wait where they were, and to get onto a lifeboat which would be along shortly.

“This instruction.... was countermanded by the organiser who instructed them to make their way over the rocks, on foot,” the report states.

The investigation was told that another participant in the large group asked the Irish Coast Guard officer and the organiser “to stop giving conflicting orders as it was confusing”.

“This participant’s recollection was that she would have preferred to follow the directions of the Irish Coast Guard, as she was not happy about climbing over the rocks as she did not have proper footwear and she was anxious and fearful about slipping”.

“According to this participant, the organiser was adamant that the large group should climb over the rocks and the large group duly did so, without incident,” it says.

“They were unable to access a gate through a wall at the top of the rocks and had to make their way around the wall onto other (less slippery) rocks and then onto a flat shore where they were met by the Irish Coast Guard officer,” it says.

It says the organiser took issue with the Irish Coast Guard officer’s use of the word “hypothermia” in a radio report..

The report says that “as no records were made available, it has not been possible to determine what contingency planning was in place”.

It says that the forms signed by any of the participants on the tour were not provided to the investigator.

“According to one participant, she completed a form for her first excursion with the organiser a month previously but did not complete a second for the tour while the other participant does not recall completing any form,” the report says.

“ The form contains a detailed purported waiver of any liability on the part of the organiser. It is not the function of this report to comment on its legal validity,” it says.

The report also notes that “a waiver of liability form is not a substitute for the proper assessment of conditions and participants in a sporting or recreational activity on the water”.

The organiser, who was not one of the instructors, denied that one of the participants was in the water for 40 minutes.

The organiser stated of this participant that “on the 13 September we had a client who was not keen to get back into her kayak and who was feeling tired”.

“She was eventually returned to her kayak with the help of three instructors. If one floats in the sea, the effect of wind and water will carry you somewhere. That is the nature of floating in the sea. It doesn't mean that the conditions were inappropriate,” the organiser said.

The report also quotes the organiser as saying “one woman capsized more than once and needed some convincing to get back into her kayak. I have no wish to embarrass anyone and I don't see the need to say any more other than she was eventually returned to her kayak, and that she was not in the water for 40 minutes, though she was in the water for longer than usual”.

It also says there appears to be no record of any communication over VHF between the tour group and the organiser or instructors, such VHF “traffic” as is recorded on the Irish Coast Guard SITREP and report exchanged between the emergency and rescue services and the fisherman to coordinate the operation.

The report notes several draft reports preceded the final report, and changes were made “where they were warranted”.

It says the organiser detailed her own qualifications, stating “I am a level 4 instructor and hold the highest level skills award which is level 5”. She also said she is a tutor and can train and assess instructors.

It said that the organiser “does not consider regard should be had to CI, as she asserts that the current awards are “not fit for purpose for tour guiding as opposed to providing more in depth instruction”.” It says the organiser stated that a capsize drill is carried out at the harbour, but “no information has been provided as to who gave this instruction for this tour, nor as to what the content was on the date in question”.

It quotes one participant as stating no capsize drill took place.

It says that during the course of the investigation, the organiser of the tour was asked to provide certain records within the meaning of Section 30(1) the 2000 Act and to provide any additional information relating to the incident. It says “no such records or additional information were made available, over and above various statements about the incident made by the organiser in written exchanges in which she raised a number of issues.

The report says that on December 18th, 2020, the organiser wrote to the deputy director of the Irish Coast Guard requesting the “retraction, withdrawal and correction of the IRCG SITREP” for the incident.

The report makes a number of recommendations in relation to more effective delivery of the Code of Practice safety content, and says “consideration should be given to the establishment of a directory of commercial providers of coastal sea and river paddle facilities”.

The report says “consideration should be given to how best to enhance safety standards within the commercial paddlesport provider sector, including whether a mandatory registration or licencing scheme which requires the registration of instructors and their qualifications should be introduced”.

It says “consideration should be given to a mandatory requirement that commercial providers of coastal sea kayaking facilities register in advance with the local Coast Guard to ensure that the rescue services are aware, in advance, of the group’s itinerary, departure and return times, as well as numbers in the group”.

It says mandatory use of suitably licensed VHF radios by commercial providers of coastal sea kayaking facilities should be considered.

It says that CI in conjunction with Sports Ireland should “consider establishing a programme” to facilitate it in “establishing a scheme for the mandatory audit of safety policies and practises in clubs in collaboration with related sport national governing body, and, insofar as it is possible, the audit of instructors in commercial paddlesport providers”.

It says CI should consider “whether a safety audit and compliance system could be developed within its instructor training and registration system so that registered instructors have training in relation to safety requirements including those in the Code of Practice and Marine Notices, and so that CI could better contribute to safety through its regulation of its accreditation and registration system”.

The 240-page report includes lengthy appendices exchanges of communications between the organiser and the investigator. The report is downloadable from the MCIB website here

Published in MCIB
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The Department of Transport is reminding all fishing vessel owners, operators, skippers and crew of the hazards associated with trawling, including beam trawling and scallop dredging.

It follows the report in August from the Maritime Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) into the sinking of the FV Alize off Hook Head early last year, which also recently prompted an advisory on the correct use of lifejackets and personal flotation devices on fishing vessels.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, two fishermen died after the FV Alize sank while fishing for scallops out of Duncannon, Co Wexford on 4 January 2020.

Joe Sinnott was recovered from the scene by the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117 but was later pronounced dead at University Hospital Waterford.

The body of skipper Willie Whelan was found trapped behind equipment on the deck of the sunken vessel and was recovered by divers on 28 January 2020.

The MCIB report concluded that the FV Alize capsized and sank quickly and without warning while hauling its final trawl, most likely due to a stability issue.

Marine Notice No 53 of 2021, which can be downloaded below, outlines a number of safety measures for all voyages that involve trawling or beam trawling.

These include awareness of the dangers of equipment failure and of conditions that can affect stability such as use of fuel and stowage of fish.

Published in Fishing
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The Department of Transport has issued a new Marine Notice on the correct use of lifejackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) on fishing vessels.

It follows the report earlier this month from the Maritime Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) into the sinking of the FV Alize off Hook Head early last year.

Two fishermen died after the FV Alize sank while fishing for scallops out of Duncannon, Co Wexford on 4 January 2020.

Joe Sinnott was recovered from the scene by the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117 but was later pronounced dead at University Hospital Waterford.

The body of skipper Willie Whelan was found trapped behind equipment on the deck of the sunken vessel and was recovered by divers on 28 January 2020.

The MCIB report concluded that the FV Alize capsized and sank quickly and without warning while hauling its final trawl, most likely due to a stability issue.

It determined that the boat was operating below its optimum level of three crew, and that the two fishermen on board were not trained in stability awareness and likely fatigued after 36 hours at sea.

In addition, it found that the two crew’s likelihood of survival was reduced by not having any time to respond and broadcast a distress message — but also by not complying with safety regulations which mandate the wearing of a lifejacket or personal flotation device.

Marine Notice No 48 of 2021 (which can be downloaded below, and which supersedes No 34 of 2017) reminds all fishing vessel owners, operators, skippers, crew and course training providers that every person on board a fishing vessel must wear a suitable PDF when in deck (or, in the case of an open undecked vessel, at all times on board).

Such inflatable PFDs must be worn over, not under, all items of clothing and should be fitted with a hold-down deice such as a crotch strap or thigh straps.

The MCIB report also recommends warning owners and operators of small fishing vessels (under 15m in length overall) of “the hazards associated with trawling, including beam trawling and scallop dredging”, and that the relevant Code of Practice for the design, build and operation of such vessels be updated “to reflect the importance of periodic examination and testing of lifting equipment”.

Meanwhile, it’s recommended that the Minister for Transport should adopt Actions 9 stated in the Maritime Safety Strategy in respect of stability standards, stability criteria and crew training for small fishing vessels.

Published in Fishing
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The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport calls on the owners, operators, skippers and crews of fishing vessels to prepare passage plans as well as contingencies or groundings or collisions.

It comes in the wake of recommendations from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) in its report on an incident involving the FV Dearbhla in the Blasket Islands in May last year.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 23-metre trawler ran struck rocks near Inis na Bró on 14 May 2020 while no crew member was alert at the helm.

It emerged that the vessel had no tea-maker in the wheelhouse, so the crew member on watch had gone to his bunk to make tea and failed to turn on the watch alarm on his return, and fell asleep shortly after — meaning that a required course correction on approach to the Blaskets was not made.

In response to the report’s findings and recommendations, Marine Notice No 11 of 2021 reminds all fishing vessel owners, operators, skippers and crew:

  • To ensure all navigation is planned in adequate detail and that passage plans, with contingency plans where appropriate, are compiled and made known to the crew of the vessel. Afloat.ie has more HERE.
  • To develop contingency plans and procedures for a grounding event or collision incident, as previously highlighted on Afloat.ie.

The department also wishes to remind all of the statutory requirements pertaining to training, drills and musters, as well as the reporting obligations for incidents at sea.

Full details can be found in Marine Notice No 11 of 2021, a PDF of which can be downloaded below.

Published in Fishing

A collision involving a yacht and a tanker in August 2019 has prompted a reminder for boaters to brush up on the “rules of the road” for seafarers in the Department of Transport’s latest Marine Notice.

The 38ft yacht Medi Mode sustained extensive damage following the collision with the 88m chemical tanker off Greystones on the night of 23 August 2019. No one was injured in the incident.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the collision called on the Minister for Transport to alert recreational sailors and motorboat users to the need for “appropriate training” and compliance with international regulations on prevention of collisions at sea.

However, the two airline pilots who were sailing the yacht disputed the MCIB report’s criticism of their experience despite their lack of formal navigation qualifications.

Marine Notice No 05 of 2021 is available to download below.

Published in Offshore

Irish Coast Guard volunteer Bernard Lucas has called for a re-investigation into the cause of his wife Caitriona’s death off the Clare coast in 2016.

In an interview with today’s Sunday Independent, Mr Lucas says he finds as “shocking” the criticisms of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) in a report commissioned by maritime lawyer Michael Kingston.

The report by Capt Neil Forde of Marine Hazard Ltd said the MCIB was “not fit for purpose”.

It was submitted by Mr Michael Kingston to several Oireachtas committees, including the Transport and Communications Network committee which sat on Friday last.

Ms Lucas (41), a librarian, mother of two, and advanced coxswain, had offered to help out the neighbouring Irish Coast Guard Kilkee unit in a search for a missing man on September 12th, 2016.

She hadn’t expected to go to sea, but the unit was short a crew member. She died after the Kilkee rigid inflatable boat (Rib) capsized in a shallow surf zone. Two other crew members survived.

Last summer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided that no criminal charges should be brought in relation to the incident after a report was forwarded to it by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The unpublished HSA report was one of two separate investigations. The second report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) proved so contentious that it had to be published in two parts, and the responses to the draft were longer than the report itself.

In a robust response, the Irish Coast Guard described the MCIB report as “flawed” and “misleading”, and argued that it was a “significant leap” to draw wider conclusions about safety standards based on one “tragic accident”.

In his submission to the draft report, Bernard Lucas queried why the investigation did not address failure to find personal locator beacons and other equipment issues, including the loss of helmets by three crew and the failure of lifejackets to inflate.

A postmortem identified a trauma to the side of Ms Lucas’s head at a point where it should have been protected by her helmet.

Last summer, the MCIB’s authority was questioned in a European Court of Justice judgment which found it is not independent as its board included the Department of Transport secretary-general, or his or her deputy, and the Marine Survey Office (MSO) chief surveyor. These two post holders have recently stood down.

The report commissioned by Mr Kingston claims the MCIB failed to investigate certain incidents which it has a statutory duty to inquire about, it questions its resources and independence.

It also says the MCIB inquiry into Caitriona Lucas’s death is “riddled with inaccuracies” – starting with the wrong location for the incident.

These inaccuracies were not corrected, even when highlighted in responses to the draft report, because MCIB investigators” simply have not had the resources required to do the job properly”, Mr Kingston told the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Networks committee hearing on Friday.

Capt Forde’s analysis also questions why the MCIB did not also investigate a previous incident which occurred in similar circumstances to that of Ms Lucas’s death, where an Irish Coast Guard Dingle unit RIB capsized in a surf zone off Inch, Co Kerry in August 2014.

The MCIB said in response that it does not comment on published reports issued on the conclusion of investigations, and said it was not the purpose of an investigation to attribute blame or fault – but to avoid other casualties occurring.

“Any person may report a marine accident to the MCIB directly and details are on the website,”it said in response to questions about its failure to follow up on the Dingle incident.

“All on-going investigations are noted on the website and members of the public may submit evidence about an investigation at any time should they so wish,” it said.

“The board may also re open investigations where it receives evidence to warrant that course of action,” it said, but it was “not in receipt of any requests to re-open any investigation, nor is it in receipt of any objections by any interested parties to the recommendations it has made”.

“The members of the MCIB recognise that some investigations arise from very tragic circumstances and that any investigation may cause added distress,” it said.

Read more on the Sunday Independent here

Published in Coastguard

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan says he plans a review of how marine accidents are investigated which should take “several months”.

Addressing an Oireachtas Transport and Networks Communications committee on Friday (Jan 29), Mr Ryan said that the the “fundamental review” would be conducted by an independent expert.

The review would examine “the structures in place for marine accident investigation”, how it is structured overseas and how “other modes” are treated in Ireland, he said.

“This is by no means a criticism of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) and its members past and present, its secretariat or its investigators and the valuable work they have undertaken,” Mr Ryan said

“However, circumstances have changed since the Policy Review Group’s 1998 report and the enactment of the 2000 Act and in light of the European Court of Justice judgment, I consider it to be an opportune time to have such a review,” he said.

“The review will look at how maritime accident investigation is structured overseas and also how other modes are treated in Ireland,” he said.

Last year, the European Court of Justice found that the MCIB was not independent, as its board included the Department of Transport secretary-general, or his or her deputy, and the Marine Survey Office (MSO) chief surveyor.

These two post holders resigned last year.

However, a report to the Oireachtas committee earlier this month by maritime lawyer Michael Kingston said the MCIB was “not fit for purpose”, stating it was under-resourced and had failed to conduct a number of investigations which it was statutorily obliged to.

At Friday’s committee hearing, Mr Ryan rejected a call by Mr Kingston for the immediate establishment of an independent investigation unit into marine accidents with adequate resources.

Mr Kingston, whose father Tim died in the Whiddy Island Betelgeuse explosion in 1979, pointed out a review had already taken place in 1998 with recommendations, and another review would only delay matters.

Mr Kingston said lessons needed to be learned from marine accidents, and this required a properly resourced investigation unit which might cost €350,000.

He said it would be a fraction of the cost of a €50 million annual search and rescue helicopter contract.

His call was supported by Fine Gael TD for Clare Joe Carey, Fianna Fáil senator Timmy Dooley and Green Party TD Steven Matthews who urged Ryan to take more immediate action than commissioning another review which might be “long-fingered”.

Mr Ryan said that he intended to proceed with amendments to the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2020, which would involve reconstituting the MCIB board.

He said that the 1998 review was no longer sufficient, and further legislation could be introduced after a review took place.

Mr Ryan said the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2020 should be” viewed as a transitional measure and not a permanent legislative framework for marine accident investigation in the State”.

“Further legislation may be required following completion of the review,” he said.

“Pending the outcome of the Review, it is imperative that the State continues to have a functioning marine investigation body in place,” he said.

Published in MCIB
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Shannon Foynes Port Information

Shannon Foynes Port (SFPC) are investing in an unprecedented expansion at its general cargo terminal, Foynes, adding over two-thirds the size of its existing area. In the latest phase of a €64 million investment programme, SFPC is investing over €20 million in enabling works alone to convert 83 acres on the east side of the existing port into a landbank for marine-related industry, port-centric logistics and associated infrastructure. The project, which will be developed on a phased basis over the next five years, will require the biggest infrastructure works programme ever undertaken at the port, with the entire 83 acre landbank having to be raised by 4.4 metres. The programme will also require the provision of new internal roads and multiple bridge access as well as roundabout access.

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