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A report into a collision at Rosslare Europort between the "MV Stena Europe & MV Oscar Wilde" has been published recently by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

On 26th October 2012 the passenger car ferry M/V "Stena Europe" was berthing on No.3 Berth Rosslare Harbour.

During the berthing operation the average wind speed increased to 36 knots with gusts up to 45 knots and the vessel lost control and collided with another passenger car ferry the M/V "Oscar Wilde" which was berthed on No.2 Berth. Minor damage was sustained by both vessels.

The M/V "Oscar Wilde" was not taken out of service and the M/V "Stena Europe" cancelled one sailing. There was no injury to persons during the incident.

The full MCIB report is downloadable below as a pdf file

Published in MCIB
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#MCIB - Various factors - including poor buoyancy, suboptimal lifejackets and a fateful late decision to swim to shore - have been identified in the official report into the death of a fisherman off the Waterford coast earlier this year.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a major search and rescue operation was launched on 10 January when a 16-foot fishing punt capsized in a strong swell at the sandbar off Brownstown Head near Dunmore East, throwing its two-man crew overboard.

James Tate was able to swim to the nearby shore in the early morning darkness after some two hours in the water. But he became separated from his friend Johnny Flynn - a former member of the Dunmore East lifeboat crew - who was found unconscious in the water by coastguard helicopter before 8.30am.

Flynn was pronounced dead at Waterford Airport shortly after, with a post-mortem concluding that he cause of death was drowning.

The tragedy occurred six years to the day after the sinking of Dunmore East trawler the Pere Charles, which took five lives.

In the official report into the incident, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the fishing punt, already vulnerable to breaking waves as an un-decked open boat, was more susceptible due to its waterlogged condition, and the lack of adequate buoyancy.

It was also found that neither the vessel's handheld VHF radio nor GPS device, or indeed Tate's mobile phone, were available to the pair after the boat turned turtle.

Though both men were wearing lifejackets, they were of a kind that lacked a collar that would have kept the deceased's head above water, nor did they have a light or whistle. Only Tate was equipped with any kind of light, so he could not locate his friend in the dark.

Most importantly, it was found that the boat had overturned within 100 metres of the shallows, so that if the pair had attempted to swim to shore earlier - rather than tire themselves out trying to climb onto the upturned hull - the chances of both men surviving the incident "would have been greatly enhanced".

The full report into the incident is available to download below.

Published in MCIB

#MCIB - Marine investigators have emphasised the dangers of drinking while at sea in the official report into the death of a lobster fisherman off Galway in April last year.

The body of Gerard Folan was recovered from the waters off St MacDara's Island, near Carna in Co Galway, on the morning of 24 April 2012 after he was reported missing the night before.

According to the report into the incident by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), Folan had set off in his currach from Dooeyher Pier in Carna around lunchtime on 23 April to check on lobster pots some 3nm away, off Deer Island - promising to contact his father on his return.

Folan was shortly after observed by another fisherman in the area, and was reportedly not wearing an oilskin nor a lifejacket.

Some hours later Folan's father went around the local piers but did not find his son. Later still, Folan's ex-wife contacted Clifden Coast Guard to report his disappearance and a search effort was mobilised.

Early the next morning, before the search resumed at first light, the fishing vessel Ocean Breeze sighted a drifting currach that was found to be Folan's. His body was later recovered off St MacDara's Island around 11am.

According to the MCIB report, it was not possible to determine how Folan became separated from his boat, though it was found that the currach's outboard engine had no kill cord attached, so it is probable the engine was running and the boat motored out of reach when he went overboard.

Although Folan was regarded as a strong swimmer, the post-mortem found elevated levels of alcohol in his bloodstream, which the MCIB report said would have hindered his attempts to swim back to his vessel.

Investigators also highlighted the "undue delay" in raising the alarm when Folan has failed to return earlier on the evening of 23 April.

The full report into the incident is available to download below.

Published in MCIB

#MCIB - Marine investigators have reiterated the importance of boaters informing people ashore of planned trips in their report into the drowning of a dinghy sailor in West Cork last autumn.

As reported last August on Afloat.ie, an afternoon sail by a father and son from the Beara Peninsula ended in tragedy after their Enterprise sailing dinghy capsized.

The body of John O'Leary from Allihies was found around 1.30am on Tuesday 14 August, just hours after he and his 18-year-son Christy had abandoned their overturned vessel to attempt the swim to shore.

The official report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the two had been sailing without incident in the area between Cod's Head and the Cullogh Rock for an hour or so before a gust of wind flipped their dinghy.

Unable to right the vessel, the O'Learys rested on the upturned hull to await assistance. But after many hours had passed and suspecting that the hull was starting to sink, they decided to swim to the shoreline some 800 metres away.

With 200 metres to go, John O'Leary encouraged his son to swim ahead to raise the alarm, which he did minutes later. But in the interim John went missing.

Some time into the search operation launched immediately by Castletownbere RNLI and assisted by the Irish Coast Guard from Allihies, John O'Leary's lifejacket was found in the water, and his body was located shortly after.

The MCIB report found that the Enterprise dinghy the O'Learys were sailing is of a kind notorious for its difficulty to right after capsizing. It was also noted that the craft had an insufficient buoyancy bags, which made it even more difficult to bail out once overturned.

But more importantly, the report found that John O'Leary, as skipper of the dinghy, had not arranged a return time or sailing area with anyone on shore prior to the trip.

"If he had done this, the rescue may have occurred before they decided to enter the water," the report said.

Neither man was wearing a wetsuit, exposing them to "the cold and stresses from the cold" which may have "impaired their decision making process" and prompted their decision to swim from the vessel, it added.

In its recommendations, the MCIB advises all sailors to inform a responsible person ashore of their itinerary, and to stay with their vessel as long as possible in the event of any incident on the water.

The full report into the dinghy capsize is available to download below.

Published in MCIB

#MCIB - Overloading of the boat deck and a missing hatch at the stern may have caused a fatal loss of buoyancy that led to the drowning of two fishermen off Co Clare last year, according to the official report into the incident.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the remains of the two fishermen were found by local divers at the wheelhouse of their sunken boat near Spanish Point on 14 August 2012 during a search operation for the fishing vessel Lady Eileen.

Their craft had been reported missing the previous day after they failed to return from a trip to mend snagged nets, and a massive search operation was mounted after debris and diesel were discovered in the water close to Spanish Point that evening.

The two men lost were later named as owner/skipper Michael Galvin and crew Noel Dickinson, both of Quilty in Co Clare.

In its official report into the incident, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the vessel had a low freeboard, such that even in an unladen condition it would not have to heel by a significant degree to take water on the deck.

With the weight of nets and the seawater tank used to store crustaceans, the vessel's freeboard was reduced such that water would be allowed to "flow freely on to the deck even in very calm weather conditions". This is water that would not be quickly released, with potentially very serious effects on the craft's buoyancy.

In addition, a panel removed by Galvin some weeks before to do repair work on the sterngear appeared not to have been replaced, possibly allowing a catastrophic amount of water on deck if the boat encountered wind or wave action.

With no witnesses to the incident it is unknown exactly what happened to cause the boat to be swamped, though it is thought to have transpired very quickly as neither man was wearing a lifejacket and the boat's manually operated emergency beacon in the wheelhouse was not activated.

Among the MCIB's recommendations is that the Minister for Transport reviews the Code of Practice for fishing vessels under 15m to devise new stability criteria.

Volunteers participating in search operations have also been urged to co-ordinate their assistance, after an open boat with three on board was capsized by waves while searching for the Lady Eileen and its crew.

All were thrown overboard though were quickly rescued by Garda divers in the area.

The full report from the MCIB is available to download below.

Published in MCIB

#TitBonhomme - The "extraordinary" lack of information solicited by the operator who took the first of two emergency calls from the sinking Tit Bonhomme has been taken to task at the inquest into the loss of the trawler's crew.

The Irish Times reports that it only emerged last week that two emergency calls were made from the vessel by its youngest crew member Kevin Kershaw, though the Irish Coast Guard and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) were previously aware of only one.

The first - and previously unreported - 999 call from Kershaw's mobile phone at 5.46am was transferred to Bandon Garda Station rather than to the coastguard. Barrister Elizabeth O'Connel, representing the widow of skipper Michael Hayes, described the dearth of details taken by the operator on that call as "extraordinary".

It was only on the second call placed three minutes later that the Irish Guard was notified of the incident by 5.53am.

The Department of Communications has since announced it will conduct a review of the 999 service provided by the Emergency Call Answering Service (Ecas), operated by BT Ireland from Ballyshannon, Navan and Dublin.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, five fishermen lost their lives when the trawler Tit Bonhomme went down after striking rocks at the mouth of Glandore Harbour.

The only survivor, Abdelbaky Mohamed, gave testimony to the inquest two weeks ago of his last moments aboard the stricken vessel.

Published in News Update

#TitBonhomme - The inquest into the Tit Bonhomme tragedy has heard testimony from the sole survivor of the incident that took the lives of five fishermen.

As The Irish Times reports, Abdelbaky Mohamed explained how he and three other crew had been asleep below deck their trawler hit Adam Island at the mouth of Glandore Harbour on the morning of 15 January 2012.

Mohamed said there was no 'big bang' when the vessel hit the rocks but it began taking on water very quickly has he, his brother Wael, Attia Shaban and Kevin Kershaw made their way to the bridge to join Saied Ali Eldin and skipper Michael Hayes.

The boat was rolling in heavy seas as Hayes handed out lifejackets to each crewmen which they then put on, he recalled, adding that conditions made it impossible for them to put on their immersion suits.

The Irish Independent has published a harrowing transcript of the crew's frantic calls to the emergency services as the Tit Bonhomme was assaulted by the waves and eventually capsized.

Mohamed said his lifejacket was ripped from his body by the force of the water crashing into the bridge, but he was able to grab onto it to reach the surface and swim towards the shore, where he was found by a search party two hours later.

Last month's report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that crew fatigue was "the single overriding casual factor" that contributed to the tragedy, pointing out that the crew had less than five hours' sleep during their 40-hour fishing trip.

But Mohamed told the inquest that he had had sufficient rest at the time of the incident.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE as the inquest continues.

Published in News Update

The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport has accepted all five recommendations from the MCIB report in the 2012 sinking of the Tit Bonhomme trawler published today.

The Irish Registered motor fishing vessel "MFV Tit Bonhomme" left Union Hall, Glandore, Co. Cork on Friday the 13th of January 2012 on a fishing trip with a crew of six.  The vessel experienced some technical difficulties during the fishing trip and the Skipper decided to return to port.  On its return to the port of Union Hall in the early morning of the 15th January 2012 the vessel stranded on Adam's Island at the entrance to Glandore Harbour.  The vessel broke up with the loss of five of its six crew.

The full report is available to download as a 6mb PDF document here.

The recommendations serve to highlight the importance of adopting a rigorous safety culture at sea. All five recommendations have either been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport has today published its response to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme.

The purpose of an MCIB report is to investigate a marine incident, and to make recommendations to the Minister in order to prevent a recurrence. The MCIB's independence from the Department is enshrined in law.

The Department's response to the five safety recommendations contained in the report is as follows:

6.1 That the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport enforces the European Community (Workers on board sea-going fishing Vessels) (Organisation of Working Time) Regulations, 2003 (S.I.709 of 2003).

6.2 That the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport enforces the Merchant Shipping (Safety of Fishing Vessels) (15-24 Metres) (Regulations) S.I. No. 640 of 2007 in relation to musters and drills.

The Department introduced an updated fishing vessel logbook for Irish registered fishing vessels of 25 tons or upwards from the January 1st 2013. Use of the logbook is being enforced at vessel surveys and inspections addresses, generating a safety management culture on-board Irish registered fishing vessels.

6.3 That the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport considers amending the requirements to provide for the automatic change-over of electrical power supplies for the radio installation in the event of an emergency.

The cost of technology to provide an automatic switch-over is now available at a reasonable price to vessels. Reference to this technology is being included in the next revision of SI(2007) 640 and fishing vessels will be required to adopt the technology when they fall due for survey.

6.4 That the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport considers the possible fitting of Bridge Navigation Watchkeeping Alarm Systems (BNWAS) on-board fishing vessels.

The Department fully supports fitting vessels with these systems. BNWAS is already mandatory for cargo ships and passenger ships. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara is proposing to provide funding for the voluntary fitting of these systems, which are mainly relevant for fishing vessels greater than 15m length overall.

6.5 That the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport considers issuing a Marine Notice drawing Owners/Skippers attention to the necessity for Skippers encountering situations where the safety of the vessel and its crew are potentially put at risk to alert the appropriate shore authorities advising them of the situation and what assistance the vessel may require.

The Department will shortly issue a Marine Notice to address this recommendation.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: "I want to extend my sympathies to families and friends of the deceased. We owe it to them and everyone using the sea to embrace a culture of safety at sea and ensure that similar incidents do not re-occur in the future. I also want to thank the MCIB for its thorough investigation."

Published in MCIB
Tagged under

#MCIB - Investigators have reiterated the importance of water safety measures such as wearing a lifejacket and having a means of alert when on or near the water in the report into the death of a man in Dundalk Harbour in February last year.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the man was understood to have taken a small punt from the mudflats at Soldiers Point to reach a colleague requiring his aid on another boat on the afternoon of Saturday 12 February 2012, but went missing after he capsized near Dundalk Lighthouse.

The official report into the indecent by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) names the man as Stephen Fergus, who was making his way to assist his friend Pat O'Brien, whose boat was suffering engine trouble and was anchored on the north side of the estuary at Dundalk Harbour.

Fergus was reported missing after O'Brien became concerned as to his whereabouts. After an extensive search of the estuary by the emergency services, Fergus' body and the submerged punt were found later that evening by the Drogheda unit of the Irish Coast Guard.

The subsequent post-mortem recorded Fergus' death as by drowning.

With no witnesses to the incident that brought about his death, it is assumed that Fergus was in the process of either getting into the punt or transferring from the punt to his own boat when the tragedy occurred.

It was noted that the canvas cover on his boat has not been disturbed, indicating that he did not gain access to the vessel before the incident.

The report's analysis concludes that the strong tidal current at the time would have made it difficult for Fergus to manoeuvre the punt to transfer to his boat single-handedly.

In addition, the condition of the mudflats where the punt was tied off were found to be changeable over time, with the mud in parts "arduous to walk on".

But the key finding of the investigation was that Fergus was neither wearing a lifejacket nor had any means of communication on his person at the time of the incident.

Two lifejackets were found in his car, and it was noted that he had left his mobile phone at home, presumably in the hurry to assist his friend.

The MCIB recommended that all owners and operators of recreational craft should be aware and follow the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft.

The full report is available to download as a PDF below.

Published in MCIB

#MCIB - "Serious weaknesses" in navigational procedures and practices led to the grounding of a passenger boat at Roonagh Pier in Co Mayo last winter, according to the official report into the incident.

The inter-island passenger ferry Pirate Queen - operated by Clare Island Ferry and Clew Bay Cruises Ltd - grounded on rocks at the entrance to Roonagh Pier on the evening of 20 December 2011 as it made a nighttime approach to the pier.

Two crew were joined by three passengers on board at the time, one of whom served as auxiliary crew while another was injured when the vessel was jolted in heavy swell. The vessel itself, though not holed, sustained severe structural damage.

It emerged that the navigational aid lights on the pier - maintained my Mayo County Council - were not fully functioning at the time of the incident and did not illuminate the waters in the vicinity of the pier, making any approach in darkness a dangerous one, particularly at a location where swells were common at the best of times.

However, the Pirate Queen continued on its heading to Roonagh Pier despite its master being made aware of the lighting issue via SMS shortly after leaving Inishturk.

On approach is was noted that the search light was not manned, and when the lookout reported that the vessel was too far to the east, a large swell forced the boat onto rocks on the east side of the pier.

Lifejackets were immediately put on the passengers, while a fellow ferry master returning home on his RIB was hailed to quickly retrieve the passengers from the boat.

As the ferry was rolling and grinding on the rocks in the heavy swell, one of the passengers was thrown against a bulkhead or the hull and suffered a back injury, though luckily avoided head injury due to the lifejacket. All three passengers were transferred ashore safely via RIB.

In its findings, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) initially focused on the pier lighting, both high-level and navigation lights, noting their vulnerability to storm damage and the lack of effective screening.

But upon further analysis, the report highlighted a number of deficiencies in the running of the ferry service itself, such as the lack of crew rosters to ensure a full complement for any sailing, and the absence of an alternative plan in the event of difficulties landing at Roonagh Pier.

In addition, it noted "an over-reliance of visual aids to navigation and a neglect to practice and use the electronic aids on board.

"When one is very familiar with the waters and on regular passages it is very easy to become complacent," the report stated.

It also noted the "hazardous and unacceptable" decision following the incident to move the boat from Roonagh Pier to Clare Island without informing the Irish Coast Guard of the situation.

The MCIB recommends that the ferry operators devise specific approach instructions, ensure that all employees take part "in the full range of emergency procedures" and that crew rosters be drawn up and displayed. The complete report is available to download below.

Published in MCIB
Page 7 of 12

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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