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#MCIB - The death by drowning of a South Dublin boatman may have been avoided had he been wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, according to investigators.

The report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) into the death of Aidan Fennell off Dalkey Island on 12 October 2010 found that an epileptic episode could have caused him to fall overboard from his rowboat and become disorientated once in the water.

Fennell, 43, was considered a competent boatman and a strong swimmer used to cold water, though was prone to seizures where he could not control his muscles and lost sense with reality, on occasion becoming unconscious.

On the afternoon of 12 October last year Fennell had launched his boat from Coliemore Harbour in fair conditions, intending to ferry a German family to Dalkey Island. When they pulled out of the trip, Fennell decided to row to the island on his own, with no flotation devices on board.

He was last seen by friend Kevin O'Farrell at 2.50pm. Around half an hour later, O'Farrell became concerned as to Fennell's whereabouts when he had been out of sight for some time.

After notifying the Irish Coast Guard, the Dun Laoghaire lifeboat and coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 were dispatched to search the area. Fennell's boat was located before 4pm washed on the rocks at the southeast end of Dalkey Island, and his body was found in the water close by some 10 minutes later.

No injuries were found on Fennell's body, suggesting that he went into the water before his boat washed up on the rocks.

The report concluded that if he had fallen overboard in normal conditions "it is considered likely that he could have swum to his boat, or clung on to the oars.

"However, if he had suffered an epileptic episode... he would have had great difficulty in staying afloat, in particular without having the buoyancy assistance of a life jacket."

The full report is available to download as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.

Published in MCIB
A breach in the engine compartment caused the fishing vessel Ainmire to take on water and sink off the coast of Scotland in April last year, according to the official report into the incident.
All crew on board the vessel were transferred safetly to another fishing boat that responded to its distress call, some 30 miles northwest of the Butt of Lewis on the morning of 29 April 2010.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report concluded that the failure of a sea water cooling pipe in the engine room was the most likely cause of the flooding, and pointed to the fact that the pipework had not been renewed during the life of the vessel.
It was also noted that the bilge pump and its motors were located under the floor plates in the engine room, and thus were inoperable when the water level had risen in the compartment.
In addition, the MCIB report found that the Ainmire has been operating without a Fishing Vessel Safety Certificate for more than six months at the time of the incident.
Though the owner had submitted a survey application and paid the required fee to the Marine Survey Office (MSO) the previous summer, a communication breakdown resulted in the required survey not being carried out before the expiration of the vessel's previous certification.
The MCIB advised boat owners and operators to be extra vigilant regarding the location of bilge pumps in their vessels.
It also warned that survey applications for certification "may not accommodate all situations", and that the issuing of a recepit is not a guarantee that an application is being dealt with.
The full report is available to download as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.

A breach in the engine compartment caused the fishing vessel Ainmire to take on water and sink off the coast of Scotland in April last year, according to the official report into the incident.

All crew on board the vessel were transferred safetly to another fishing boat that responded to its distress call, some 30 miles northwest of the Butt of Lewis on the morning of 29 April 2010.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report concluded that the failure of a sea water cooling pipe in the engine room was the most likely cause of the flooding, and pointed to the fact that the pipework had not been renewed during the life of the vessel.

It was also noted that the bilge pump and its motors were located under the floor plates in the engine room, and thus were inoperable when the water level had risen in the compartment.

In addition, the MCIB report found that the Ainmire has been operating without a Fishing Vessel Safety Certificate for more than six months at the time of the incident.

Though the owner had submitted a survey application and paid the required fee to the Marine Survey Office (MSO) the previous summer, a communication breakdown resulted in the required survey not being carried out before the expiration of the vessel's previous certification.

The MCIB advised boat owners and operators to be extra vigilant regarding the location of bilge pumps in their vessels. 

It also warned that survey applications for certification "may not accommodate all situations", and that the issuing of a recepit is not a guarantee that an application is being dealt with.

The full report is available to download as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.

Published in MCIB
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has called on the Government to continue highlighting the dangers of operating boats without adequate safety equipment, following its report into the death of a Wexford fisherman last year.
Michael O'Connor drowned after going overboard from his small open boat while fishing alone at Cullenstown, Co Wexford in the early hours of 7 September 2010.
The local Irish Coast Guard unit initiated a search when he did not return as expected later in the morning. His body was subsequently located next to his upturned boat around 9am.
It is not known to investigators how O'Connor came to be in the water when the incident occurred. He was found to be wearing a lifejacket, but no flares, VHF radio or other safety equipment were found on board his vessel.
The boat itself was also not a registered fishing vessel, and was unsuitable for carrying the fishing gear O'Connor had been using.
The report stated: "The combination of boat size, darkness, weather conditions, tidal flow, fishing equipment and the absence of safety equipment other than a lifejacket combined to increase the danger and reduce the chance of survival."
The full report is available to download as a PDF on the MCIB website HERE.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has called on the Government to continue highlighting the dangers of operating boats without adequate safety equipment, following its report into the death of a Wexford fisherman last year.

Michael O'Connor drowned after going overboard from his small open boat while fishing alone at Cullenstown, Co Wexford in the early hours of 7 September 2010.

The local Irish Coast Guard unit initiated a search when he did not return as expected later in the morning. His body was subsequently located next to his upturned boat around 9am.

It is not known to investigators how O'Connor came to be in the water when the incident occurred. He was found to be wearing a lifejacket, but no flares, VHF radio or other safety equipment were found on board his vessel.

The boat itself was also not a registered fishing vessel, and was unsuitable for carrying the fishing gear O'Connor had been using.

The report stated: "The combination of boat size, darkness, weather conditions, tidal flow, fishing equipment and the absence of safety equipment other than a lifejacket combined to increase the danger and reduce the chance of survival."

The full report is available to download as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.

Published in MCIB
The Irish Examiner reports that the families of two fisherman who drowned off Malin Head last November disagree with the findings of the official investigation into the tragedy.
Eddie Doherty, 65, and his nephew Robert McLaughlin, 41, died after their small fishing boat F/V Jennifer capsized and sank off Glengad on 1 November last year.
The official report released last week by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that a combination of high winds in the area and unstable weight on the boat due to the crab pots it was carrying most likely caused the vessel to list to an angle from which it could not be recovered.
But Eddie Doherty's widow said she disagreed with this conclusion.
"With Eddie’s experience and his regard for safety the load would have been spread evenly over the deck of the boat and therefore this would not have had an adverse affect on the stability of the boat," said Marian Doherty.
The full MCIB report is available to read HERE.

The Irish Examiner reports that the families of two fisherman who drowned off Malin Head last November disagree with the findings of the official investigation into the tragedy.

Eddie Doherty, 65, and his nephew Robert McLaughlin, 41, died after their small fishing boat F/V Jennifer capsized and sank off Glengad on 1 November last year.

The official report released last week by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that a combination of high winds in the area and unstable weight on the boat due to the crab pots it was carrying most likely caused the vessel to list to an angle from which it could not be recovered.

But Eddie Doherty's widow said she disagreed with this conclusion.

"With Eddie’s experience and his regard for safety the load would have been spread evenly over the deck of the boat and therefore this would not have had an adverse affect on the stability of the boat," said Marian Doherty.

The full MCIB report is available to read in full HERE.

Published in MCIB

While it might be an exaggeration to say that all of the 21 crew members of Rambler 100 owe their lives to the Irish Search and Rescue service, there are certainly five people whose future prospects were greatly improved by the operation off the Fastnet Rock on August 15th. A lot of media focus has been on Coxswain Kieran Cotter and the crew of Baltimore Lifeboat as well as lifeboat mechanic Jerry Smith, whose dive boat, on charter to the media team of one of the competitors, was on hand to search and recover the five drifting crew. There is no question that this focus is appropriate. RNLI crews all over the UK and Ireland deserve the attention, not only because of their extraordinary voluntary dedication to the cause, but also because such publicity helps swell the coffers of the charity. The service could not operate without the generosity of the donors and incidents such as these help fill the blue boat-shaped boxes held by even more RNLI volunteers.

Rambler_rescue_pheado_2

Saved: Ireland's Rescue Services Answered the Call of the capsized Supermaxi Rambler 100 off the Fastnet Rock. Photo: Team Phaedo


The dramatic stories and pictures dominating the media show the front line of a quite wonderful resource that is Search and Rescue in Ireland today. Baltimore Lifeboat was at the coal face of an intricate network of operations, triggered by the crew's EPIRBs. Irish Coast Guard radio officers in Valentia responded almost immediately tasking the rescue resources, working the phones and computers to confirm that this was not an accidentally triggered EPIRB, contacting RORC HQ, determining search patterns and relaying the information to the scene. It was the backroom contacts between RORC and the Coast Guard in endeavouring to contact Rambler 100 using satellite phones that confirmed the possibility of a catastrophic incident involving the Supermaxi. The subsequent tasking of the Shannon and Waterford based Sikorsky helicopters led to the medevac of crew member Wendy Touton and timely treatment of her hypothermic condition, initially by the on-board paramedics and later at Tralee General hospital. And Coast Guard involvement didn't end with the successful rescue – the shoreside operation to provide food and shelter in Baltimore was coordinated by Coast Guard personnel and the salvage operation of the hull of Rambler 100 was overseen by the Irish Coast Guard.

Rambler_rescue_phaedo_4

Rambler crew are recovered from the water after a SAR operation by the Irish Coastguard Photo: Team Phaedo. More photos here.


That Ireland has probably one of the best Search and Rescue services in the world goes back to the campaign initiated in 1988 by Joan McGinley, following the death, within sight of land of Donegal fisherman John Oglesby, whose leg was severed in a trawl winch. Eamon Doherty, the late former Garda Commissioner chaired the review group established in response to the campaign and his report led to the establishment of the Irish Marine Emergency Service, subsequently the Irish Coast Guard. Under the guidance of Director Capt Liam Kirwan, the new service moved quickly to become not only the central co-ordinating body for Search and Rescue, but developed its own resources, notably the helicopters, previously tasked in from Irish Air Corps and UK SAR.
Another element that will feature in the Rambler 100 incident is the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), set up from recommendations arising from a review of the handling of investigations into marine casualties.

It might be thought that the incident is now closed, but there are many unanswered questions and the investigation will be looking at these and making recommendations that should improve safety in this sector. These questions will include EPIRB performance, liferaft deployment and grab bag usage, but perhaps the key issue yet to be determined is why the response from fellow competitors didn't appear to happen. Even if Channel 16 wasn't being actively monitored, and if not why not, shouldn't the Mayday set off by the Coast Guard have set off the DSC alerts on the radios of Rambler 100's fellow competitors? Had the incident occurred several hours later or earlier when Rambler 100 could have been up to 100 miles from the nearest land, when conditions worsened, we could be looking at much more serious consequences.

It is heartening to think that, in this small country of ours in troubled times, not only do we have a shining star in our search, rescue, recovery and restore system, involving professionals and volunteers cooperating for the greater good, we also have a system that determines the nature of incidents so that we can all learn from the experience.
And let us not forget those people and services, such as the Gardai, Navy, Army and the community of Baltimore who are outside the media spotlight who contributed to this happy ending.

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Published in Water Rat
Two Mayo fishermen stranded at sea after their boat capsized were not assisted after they used flares, a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report has found.
The report, released earlier this week, recounted that the 33m crabber Léim an Bhradán had set out from Porturlin in Ballina on the morning of Saturday 30 October last on a routine fishing trip to retrieve and reset crab and lobster pots some 12 to 15 miles offshore.
The vessel was manned by skipper John O’Donnell, aged 18 at the time, and crew Nathan Flannery, in his 20s, both young men but with many years of fishing experience between them.
At some time between 1pm and 1.45pm, after having successfully hauled and re-shot one tow of pots, a second tow, in the process of being hauled, was partially aboard being emptied and re-baited.
The vessel was listing slightly to starboard due to the pots being hauled over that side when a large wave broke over the starboard quarter and flooded the working deck.
This caused the vessel to list further to starboard, allowing more water over the side and causing the stacked pots and boxes to shift, increasing the angle of the list and throwing both men into the water before the boat capsized and sank rapidly.
The boat's canister-type liferaft, which was not secured to the vessel but stored in a cradle on top of the wheelhouse, floated to the surface with a life ring. O’Donnell and Flannery managed to inflate the raft and climb aboard around 2pm, after some difficulties in operating the gas inflation cannister and releasing the raft from its securing straps.
The men then opened the SOLAS B equipment pack stored on the liferaft and released two parachute flares, 20 minutes apart, with no response. At around 3pm the pair spotted an Irish Coast Guard helicopter and released an orange smoke signal, but the chopper did not respond. It later transpired that this aircraft was the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter on a training exercise.
Several hours later, the alarm was raised ashore when the Léim an Bhradán had not returned to port. A rescue helicopter and lifeboat were tasked to the scene before midnight and the liferaft was located just after 1.30am.
O’Donnell and Flannery, who had earlier donned thermal suits to protect from the cold, were picked up and brought ashore by the lifeboat. Neither was injured in the incident.
The MCIB report found that had the lifeboat been secured to the vessel, it would have been in a position to inflate correctly as per its design.
It also found that had the EPIRB emergency beacon been mounted to a 'float free' bracket outside the wheelhouse, rather than stored inside, it would have floated to the surface and activated automatically, notifying the coast guard immediately.
Neither skipper nor crew was in possession of the boat's handheld VHF set, the report noted, which hampered their ability to contact any nearby vessels for assistance.

Two Mayo fishermen stranded at sea after their boat capsized were not assisted after they used flares, a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report has found.

The report, released earlier this week, recounted that the 33m crabber Léim an Bhradán had set out from Porturlin in Ballina on the morning of Saturday 30 October last on a routine fishing trip to retrieve and reset crab and lobster pots some 12 to 15 miles offshore.

The vessel was manned by skipper John O’Donnell, aged 18 at the time, and crew Nathan Flannery, in his 20s, both young men but with many years of fishing experience between them. 

At some time between 1pm and 1.45pm, after having successfully hauled and re-shot one tow of pots, a second tow, in the process of being hauled, was partially aboard being emptied and re-baited. 

The vessel was listing slightly to starboard due to the pots being hauled over that side when a large wave broke over the starboard quarter and flooded the working deck. 

This caused the vessel to list further to starboard, allowing more water over the side and causing the stacked pots and boxes to shift, increasing the angle of the list and throwing both men into the water before the boat capsized and sank rapidly.

The boat's canister-type liferaft, which was not secured to the vessel but stored in a cradle on top of the wheelhouse, floated to the surface with a life ring. O’Donnell and Flannery managed to inflate the raft and climb aboard around 2pm, after some difficulties in operating the gas inflation cannister and releasing the raft from its securing straps.

The men then opened the SOLAS B equipment pack stored on the liferaft and released two parachute flares, 20 minutes apart, with no response. At around 3pm the pair spotted an Irish Coast Guard helicopter and released an orange smoke signal, but the chopper did not respond. It later transpired that this aircraft was the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter on a training exercise.

Several hours later, the alarm was raised ashore when the Léim an Bhradán had not returned to port. A rescue helicopter and lifeboat were tasked to the scene before midnight and the liferaft was located just after 1.30am. 

O’Donnell and Flannery, who had earlier donned thermal suits to protect from the cold, were picked up and brought ashore by the lifeboat. Neither was injured in the incident.

The MCIB report found that had the lifeboat been secured to the vessel, it would have been in a position to inflate correctly as per its design.

It also found that had the EPIRB emergency beacon been mounted to a 'float free' bracket outside the wheelhouse, rather than stored inside, it would have floated to the surface and activated automatically, notifying the coast guard immediately.

Neither skipper nor crew was in possession of the boat's handheld VHF set, the report noted, which hampered their ability to contact any nearby vessels for assistance.

Published in MCIB
Investigators have warned of the dangers of drinking at sea following their investigation into the death of two yachtsmen off Inishboffin in October last year.
Donal McEllin, 63, and Ger Feeney, 56, died while attempting to return to their motor yacht Quo Vadis in the early hours of 10 October.
The inquiry by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the pair had set off for the yacht - which was moored in Inisboffin Harbour - on a motor-driven inflatable tender after several hours socialising in Day's Pub on the island.
The report also found that they had declined an offer to be ferried back to the yacht.
A witness, Ian Day, recounted that he drove his jeep to the end of the pier and used his headlights to assure himself that the tender had reached the vessel. Though it had been agreed with both men that they would turn off the external lights on the vessel when they safely boarded, it was assumed that they had forgotten.
The bodies of both men were discovered the following morning. McEllin’s body was found lying on West Quarter Beach adjacent to where the vessel was moored, while Feeney’s body was found afloat, lying under the upturned tender. McEllin’s lifejacket had inflated but was entangled around his neck, indicating that the groin strap was not properly tied.
Based on the available evidence, the MCIB concluded that the deaths were the result of attemping a night-time transfer from a small inflatable boat to a larger vessel swinging on its mooring, combined with "possible tiredness and diminished human performance resulting from the effects of alcohol".

Investigators have published their investigation report into the death of two yachtsmen off Inishboffin in October last year.

Donal McEllin, 63, and Ger Feeney, 56, died while attempting to return to their motor yacht Quo Vadis in the early hours of 10 October.

The inquiry by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the pair had set off for the yacht - which was moored in Inisboffin Harbour - on a motor-driven inflatable tender after several hours socialising in Day's Pub on the island.

The report also found that they had declined an offer to be ferried back to the yacht.

A witness, Ian Day, recounted that he drove his jeep to the end of the pier and used his headlights to assure himself that the tender had reached the vessel. Though it had been agreed with both men that they would turn off the external lights on the vessel when they safely boarded, it was assumed that they had forgotten.

The bodies of both men were discovered the following morning. Mr. McEllin’s body was found lying on West Quarter Beach adjacent to where the vessel was moored, while Mr. Feeney’s body was found afloat, lying under the upturned tender. Mr. McEllin’s lifejacket had inflated but was entangled around his neck, indicating that the groin strap was not properly tied.

Based on the available evidence, the MCIB concluded that the deaths were the result of attemping a night-time transfer from a small inflatable boat to a larger vessel swinging on its mooring, combined with "possible tiredness and diminished human performance resulting from the effects of alcohol".

The full MCIB report is available for download below.

Published in MCIB
The report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board into the loss of a kayaker in Castletownshend last year has found the death was caused by hypothermia and heart failure due to a pre-existing condition.
Didier Heneault, 56, died while kayaking with his wife Margaret near Horse Island, after his kayak overturned in choppy water.
The French couple, who were experienced kayakers, had set off from the League near Raheen Town in Co Cork on the morning of 30 May 2010, paddling south east.
On the western side of Horse Island, Mrs Heneault turned and saw that her husband was in thw water about 10m from his kayak. She tried to assist him in climbing out of the water back into the kayak but was unsuccessful.
Mrs Heneault used a safety rope to keep her husband afloat, but after 10 minutes he became unresponsive.
Some hours later passing kayakers heard Mrs Heneault's calls for help and assisted in towing the couple back to shore at Horse Island, where they gave Mr Heneault CPR. They were joined shortly after by the Baltimore Inshore Lifeboat and the Toe Head coastguard unit.
Mr Heneault was transferred to a waiting ambulance at Castletownshend pier where he was treated by paramedics before being taken to Cork University Hospital. There he was pronounced dead at 4.50pm.
The report into the incident by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) said the post-mortem gave the cause of death as cardiac failure due to hypertensive cardiomyopathy following immersion in cold water and associated hypothermia, with a medical history of hypertension.
The report also recommended that lifejackets should be used instead of buoyancy aids when offsore kayaking, where the risk of capsizing is greater. A lifejacket of 150 Newtons or more would have kept Mr Heneault's head above water at all times, it said.

The report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) into the loss of a kayaker in Castletownshend last year has found the death was caused by hypothermia and heart failure due to a pre-existing condition.

Didier Heneault, 56, died while kayaking with his wife Margaret near Horse Island, after his kayak overturned in choppy water.

The French couple, who were experienced kayakers, had set off from the League near Raheen Town in Co Cork on the morning of 30 May 2010, paddling south-east. 

On the western side of Horse Island, Mrs Heneault turned and saw that her husband was in thw water about 10m from his kayak. She tried to assist him in climbing out of the water back into the kayak but was unsuccessful. 

Mrs Heneault used a safety rope to keep her husband afloat, but after 10 minutes he became unresponsive.

Some hours later passing kayakers heard Mrs Heneault's calls for help and assisted in towing the couple back to shore at Horse Island, where they gave Mr Heneault CPR. They were joined shortly after by the Baltimore Inshore Lifeboat and the Toe Head coastguard unit.

Mr Heneault was transferred to a waiting ambulance at Castletownshend pier where he was treated by paramedics before being taken to Cork University Hospital. There he was pronounced dead at 4.50pm.

The report into the incident by the MCIB said the post-mortem gave the cause of death as cardiac failure due to hypertensive cardiomyopathy following immersion in cold water and associated hypothermia, with a medical history of hypertension.

The report also recommended that lifejackets should be used instead of buoyancy aids when offsore kayaking, where the risk of capsizing is greater. A lifejacket of 150 Newtons or more would have kept Mr Heneault's head above water at all times, it said.

Published in MCIB
The full report of the investiation into the loss of a crewman from the fishing vessel Janireh earlier this year is now availble online.
Egyptian national Nadi Sehsaah died after falling overboard from the trawler some 20 nautical miles south west of Mizen Head. It is believed he was not wearing a floation device at the time of the accident.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said there is an onus on the fishing industry to improve safety standards across the board, accoring to the Irish Examiner - which has more on the story HERE.
The MCIB report is available to download HERE.

The full report of the investigation into the loss of a crewman from the fishing vessel Janireh earlier this year is now available online.

Egyptian national Nadi Sehsaah died after falling overboard from the trawler some 20 nautical miles south west of Mizen Head. It is believed he was not wearing a flotation device at the time of the accident.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said there is an onus on the fishing industry to improve safety standards across the board, according to the Irish Examiner - which has more on the story HERE.

The MCIB report is available to download HERE.

Published in Water Safety
The MCIB has published its report of investigation into fatal incident off Carraroe, Co Galway on 30th May last year where a Currach skipper drowned. The report is available to download below. On Sunday 30th May 2010, at approximately 12.00 hrs., Mr. Padraig O'Cualian left Doire Fhearta Mór, Carraroe, Co. Galway in his 18ft. timber, outboard engine powered currach to go fishing for mackerel in Greatman's Bay. Sometime later, he was heading north up the bay past Calladh Thaigue, Carraroe when he fell overboard. His empty boat was spotted from ashore. His brother, Mr. Seamus O'Cualain, and others put to sea to search for him and he was later found floating in the water. All times quoted as local time.
Published in MCIB
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