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West Cork Vessel's Sinking in Co Down Identifies Need for Navigation Planning & Exercise Drills, Report States

27th June 2020
Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI working with Rescue 116 to rescue the crew of the grounded fishing boat in October 2019 Portaferry and Newcastle RNLI working with Rescue 116 to rescue the crew of the grounded fishing boat in October 2019 Photo: RNLI/Jordan Conway/Ciara Van Vogt

The need for formal navigation planning has been highlighted in a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report on the sinking of a West Cork fishing vessel in Ardglass harbour, Co Down last year.

The report on the sinking of the FV Dillon Owen has also highlighted the need for emergency exercise drills to prepare for groundings and collisions.

The 23-metre pelagic vessel registered in Skibbereen, Co Cork, was entering Ardglass harbour to land herring and sprat and refuel in the early hours of October 23rd, 2019 when it lost power and drifted onto rocks at Phennick point.

As Afloat reported at the time, all five crew on board were uninjured and airlifted to safety, and there were unsuccessful attempts by RNLI lifeboats to tow the vessel off the rocks.

The vessel sank over the following days, and the wreck was recovered and sent for demolition. The MCIB report says there was no pollution of the environment.

The report says three distinct events occurred: the initial grounding; the loss of power; and finally the second grounding and sinking of the vessel.

It says the second grounding was caused by the failure of the crew to deploy the primary anchor as the prevailing wind sea direction drove the powerless vessel towards the north shoreline and Phennick Point.

It says the “depth of water here was shallow enough to drop an anchor in order to stop the vessel’s drift”.

“By first focusing on attempts to release the trawl doors the crew lost valuable time,”it notes.

The report cites the “Recommended Practice for Anchor and Mooring Equipment”, which states that “the use of otter boards/trawl doors should only be used if the vessel has lost its anchors”.

“The Dillon Owen had not lost its anchors, and timely release by the crew of the vessel’s primary anchor at this time would likely have averted the vessel’s second grounding at Phennick Point,” it says.

The report says the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport should issue a marine notice to remind vessel owners and operators to ensure all navigation is planned in adequate detail and with contingency plans, where appropriate.

It also calls on the minister to issue a marine notice “stating that fishing vessel owners and operators develop contingency plans and procedures and conduct emergency exercise drills to prepare for a grounding event or collision incident”.

It says that “where owners and operators of fishing vessels have an anchoring arrangement whereby chain cables are replaced by trawl warps”, crews should “ready anchors for deployment when entering or leaving port by connecting the trawl warp to the free end of the primary anchor chain”.

Published in MCIB, Fishing
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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