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There are two very specific points in the annual report of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board for last year (2022), which, in pursuance of maritime safety, should be heeded by the sectors involved – watersports and the fishing industry.

The Chairperson of the Board, Claire Callanan, recalls the recommendations made in the 2021 report about incidents associated with water sports and water recreational activities and says: “The MCIB urges those bodies to whom recommendations have been addressed in these recent reports to take steps to improve much-needed safety regimes..”

On the fishing industry, she says: “It is clear that many incidents on fishing vessels are not reported to the MCIB as required by legislation.”

 Marine Casualty Investigation Board Chairperson Claire Callanan Marine Casualty Investigation Board Chairperson Claire Callanan

These are strong comments on the sectors concerned.

“In the MCIB Annual Reports for 2020 and for 2021 we reported on incidents associated with water sports and water recreational activities. We focussed on the recommendations for organisations (especially clubs and commercial entities) aimed at improving their safety standards. In February 2023 we published a report following a lengthy investigation into a tragic fatality that focussed on the safety regime in kayaking in third-level institutions.”

The Chairperson says that the MCIB has made extensive recommendations to the Minister, to Water Safety Ireland and to Canoeing Ireland and Sport Ireland, including:

  • That Canoeing Ireland, in conjunction with Sport Ireland, should consider the establishment, and promotion of a register of Canoeing Ireland qualified instructors with their qualifications that would be available to the public.
    • That Canoeing Ireland, in conjunction with Sport Ireland, should consider the establishment of a scheme for the audit of the safety policies and practices of entities affiliated with this national governing body.
    • That Water Safety Ireland should consider actions to further promote both public awareness of kayaking safety and measures to prevent kayaking accidents

On the fishing industry, Ms.Callanan comments: “ It is clear that many incidents on fishing vessels are not reported to the MCIB as required by legislation. Even from the limited information available to the MCIB from Coast Guard situation reports it appears that many incidents could have been avoided by safety assessment and planning and by proper training of crew.

As noted in MCIB Report No. 302/2022, the Maritime Safety Strategy identified that the fishing vessel sector accounts for a significant proportion of all maritime fatalities and that fishing vessels less than 15 metres (m) in length make up 90% of the Irish fishing fleet in numbers. Fishing vessel safety, particularly in relation to small and medium fishing vessels, is a particular concern. Among the key factors contributing to the loss of life in the fishing sector is working alone and fatigue.”

The full MCIB report for 2022 is available on the MCIB website

Published in MCIB

An incorrectly designed electrical system on a French-registered fishing vessel has been identified as the main cause of a serious collision with a pontoon in Dingle Harbour which caused extensive damage last November.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended that the French authorities should test and verify the automatic operation of emergency electrical systems during surveys of fishing vessels following its inquiry into the incident.

The incident occurred on November 25th, 2022 in Dingle Harbour, Co Kerry when the French-registered fishing vessel named Bikain was preparing to go to sea to resume fishing.

FV Bikain Alongside in DingleFV Bikain Alongside in Dingle Photo: MCIB

The marine casualty caused “serious damages to the pontoons and the support piles and serious damages to boats moored on the pontoons at the time”, the MCIB says. There were no injuries reported.

The vessel was crewed by a Spanish skipper and Spanish crew, and the skipper had extensive experience and had been sailing on fishing vessels since he went to sea around 41 years ago, it says.

“serious damages to the pontoons and the support piles and serious damages to boats moored on the pontoons at the time”

Senior crew also had Spanish certificates endorsed for sailing on French-flagged vessels and were all suitably experienced for this type of vessel, it says.

The vessel had been fishing off the west coast of Ireland and had come into Dingle Fishery harbour centre on 23rd November 2022, due to forecasted bad weather, it says.

As it prepared to leave two days later, the main engine was started, and checks for sailing were being carried out when the controllable pitch propellers (CPP) went to the full astern position.

“ The Skipper tried to stop the main engine with the emergency stop button on the wheelhouse console, but this failed,” the MCIB says.

“ The mooring ropes holding the vessel parted, and the vessel went quickly astern and made heavy contact with the southern boat marina pontoon causing extensive damage to the pontoon and to several boats that were secured there at the time,” it says.

“ The main engine was eventually stopped by shutting off the fuel, and the vessel drifted across the harbour basin,” it says.

“The FV Danny Finn cast off from the western side of the pier and rushed to assist by going alongside the FV Bikain and connecting ropes to assist the vessel and tow her back to the main quay wall where she was then tied up safely,” it says.

The Dingle harbour master activated the port emergency response plan to secure the drifting and damaged boats and pontoon sections.

Divers were mobilised, as well as boats, to tow the damaged boats and secure them to safer moorings. A clean-up operation was also carried out to collect debris from damaged boats, and some were lifted out to the slipway, the report says.

“There were no injuries and no pollution, but extensive damage was caused to the southern pontoon and moored boats,” it says.

“ As this was a French-flagged vessel, the Director of the Bureau d’enquêtes sur les événements de mer (BEAmer) (French Marine Casualties Investigation Office of the Ministry of the Sea) also decided to investigate jointly,” it says.

The report, which makes a number of recommendations, concludes that the electrical system was incorrectly designed on this vessel, and this was the root cause of the casualty.

“ The design of this system necessitated that the emergency batteries were required to be in use at all times for the operation of the vessel, but the emergency batteries should only be used for emergency situations when the main power supply fails,” it says.

“Previous failure of the charging system was not identified as a critical failure and should have instigated a full investigation to identify why these failures were occurring. This investigation should have identified the design faults and prevented this casualty event,” it says.

The MCIB also notes that there were no written procedures for the test and maintenance of “this critical system onboard the vessel”.

The full report is here

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A skipper survived severe pain during a deck accident which could have been alleviated if he had been able to access a knife to free his leg, according to the official investigation.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the incident on board An Portán Óir, a 9.9-metre fishing vessel, in Dingle Bay, Co Kerry, last October noted that lack of a personal locator beacon (PLB) was also a contributory factor.

However, having a designated person ashore to raise the alarm if the vessel was overdue proved “invaluable”, the MCIB report notes.

The report recounts how on Friday, October 14th, 2022, the boat was taken on a routine fishing trip to lift, bait and shoot lobster pots in Dingle Bay.

“The boat was operated by the owner (the Skipper), and he was a qualified and experienced boat operator with valid certification,” it says.

The Cygnus 33 GRP decked vessel with an inboard diesel engine is registered in Tralee, Co Kerry.

“The skipper was shooting the final string of 30 lobster pots, with ten pots in the water, when his leg became entangled in the pot ropes. The boat was in gear to stretch the string, and the rope tightened around the skipper’s leg, and he was pulled aft,” it says.

“ The skipper grabbed the rope between the pots, and tied it to the handrail to avoid being pulled overboard. He was unable to free himself as the rope around his leg was under tension, and he remained stuck in this position until he was rescued around four hours later,”it says.

It notes that the skipper normally had a knife tied to the rails aft, but this had been removed during painting and had not been replaced.

This was “a major factor in the skipper being unable to free himself”,it says.

It also notes that he was not wearing an approved personal flotation device/lifejacket and PLB on deck and if he had he would have been able to activate the PLB and get assistance as soon as the incident occurred.

Under Section 9.2.4 of the Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Equipment and Operation of Small Fishing Vessels of less than 15 metres length, “an approved PLB capable of transmitting a distress alert on 406 MHz band, shall be provided for each person on board and shall be carried by each person on deck at all times”.

“Each PLB should be ready to be manually activated”, the code states.

“ This lack of PLB is considered a contributing factor in the extent of the injuries sustained,” it says.

The alarm was raised when the boat failed to return, and a search was initiated with the Dingle lifeboat, local vessels and Coast Guard rescue helicopters.

The skipper was treated in hospital for “severe” muscle and nerve injuries which prevented him from returning to work for some time.

“The skipper always had a designated person ashore who was aware of his voyage and his expected return time. This proved to be invaluable,” the report says.

“When the alarm was raised, and the rescue services were tasked, there was also an excellent response from the local community, and even though the skipper suffered serious injuries, without the rapid response, the outcome may have been far more serious,” it says.

Read the full report here

Published in MCIB

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has today (Thursday 25 May) announced the appointments of John Carlton, Deirdre Lane and Captain Phil Murphy as board members of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

The appointees are additions to the board and provide a replacement to Frank Cronin, who ended his second term with the board on 31 March 2023.

John Carlton is the port services manager at Shannon Foynes Port Company. He is responsible for managing all port services, port operations, marine operations, engineering and asset management, project management and the environmental health and safety (EHS) function of the company. He is a qualified marine engineer and has a broad range of marine engineering, general engineering, port operations, EHS management and senior executive management/corporate governance experience.

Deirdre Lane is the Harbour Master for Dunmore East. She is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the harbour, including the day-to-day management and maintenance of the harbour and its installations. She is a Master Mariner and holds a first class honours degree in Nautical Science and an MSc in Shipping Operations with a specialist strand in Safety Management. She has also completed training in internal auditing and marine incident investigation and analysis.

Phil Murphy is the senior marine officer at Wexford County Council. He is responsible for oversight and management responsibilities of all the piers, harbours and marinas in the County, including New Ross Port. He is a Master Mariner and also holds a diploma in Nautical Studies and Port Management.

The three appointments were made pursuant to a Public Appointments Service process.

Commenting on the appointments and Frank Cronin’s departure, Minister Ryan said: “The appointees bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in several areas that are important to the continued operation of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

“I want to thank them for giving their time and expertise to the important work the board undertakes. I also wish to thank Frank for his dedication and commitment to the MCIB since his appointment in 2017. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.”

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has criticised the “general safety environment around paddlesports in Ireland” which it has identified as a “systemic factor” in a serious incident involving kayakers in Donegal’s Mulroy Bay last year.

A group of six kayakers were rescued in the tidal sea lough on March 19th, 2022, but the MCIB has classified the event as one that “posed a threat of death or serious injury”.

It has identified a combination of “causal and contributory factors”, including unsuitable weather conditions; inadequate training and qualifications; inadequate trip and contingency planning; inadequate safety equipment; inadequate protective clothing; and an inadequate safety environment.

This incident occurred during a commercial, guided trip, involving a trip organiser and five clients, which was intended to be about three kilometres and involved crossing the sea lough.

The clients were adults who typically had little or no kayaking experience. Only one client wore a wetsuit as thermal protection against the effects of cold water immersion, while the others wore clothing such as jeans and winter coats, the report says.

It says the group got into difficulty when the wind speed increased and the sea state deteriorated. The double kayak capsized but its two clients were able to right the kayak and make their way to one side of the lough.

Another two clients, in single kayaks, separately made their own way to the other side of the lough, after one of them capsized and swam for about 20 minutes to reach the shore.

The remaining client and the organiser both capsized and lost contact with their kayaks. They drifted in the water for approximately one hour, isolated about mid-way across the lough, until they were rescued by the Irish Coast Guard.

The report says they required hospital treatment before being released later that day.

“This rescue only became possible because of the diligent actions of a member of the public, who saw people in the water and notified the emergency service,”it says.

The report says the trip organiser’s training was primarily in seamanship skills for the crew of a ship, which he undertook about seven years ago, followed then by about one year working offshore as a crewmember on a commercial fishing boat.

It says he had attended a three day first aid course about nine months before this incident. He had the Level 2 Kayak Skills Award from Canoeing Ireland (CI), which he had received about nine months before this incident.

It quotes the organiser’s website, which stated that “we are an experienced team and we are all certified kayaking instructors that will take you on an amazing kayaking trip in any of the locations we operate in”.

“However, the MCIB’s investigation identified how the trip organiser is not the holder of a kayaking instructor qualification from either CI or any other national governing body,”the report says.

It also says the organiser had no formal training in the planning or navigation of kayaking trips, such as the Essential Coastal Navigation award from CI, and no formal training in the methods of rescuing kayaks or capsized kayakers, or the management of kayaking incidents.

A participant who booked the trip told the organiser that they had all kayaked before and that they could all swim.

The report says that “when the trip commenced he found out that most of them had little or no kayaking experience, and that one of them could not swim”.

It said the organiser did not operate a process of a written questionnaire or forms to be completed by participants in advance of a booking, such as those describing their swimming ability, kayaking experience or details of health or medical conditions.

On the day of the trip, a small craft warning was in effect for all Irish coastal areas, meaning that winds of at least force 6 were expected.

All of the group were provided with correct personal flotation devices, it says.

It says the trip organiser had a mobile phone placed within the pocket of his raincoat, which became inoperable when exposed to water after he capsized and entered the water.

He had a first aid kit stowed in his kayak but did not have a phone in a waterproof pouch, and did not have recommended safety equipment, as outlined in the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft, such as a VHF radio; Personal Locator Beacon (PLB); signalling flares; spray deck; tow rope; or emergency shelter.

The report says the alarm was raised by a member of the public who has lived in the area for many years and had kayaked on this sea lough many times before.

“She had considered going out kayaking on the day of this incident but had dismissed this idea because it was too windy. Her experience is that the lough is generally safe for kayaking, but it has a noticeable tide, and the weather needs to be calm for kayaking to take place safely,”it states.

The MCIB report makes a number of recommendations, and notes that it has investigated a number of kayaking and canoeing incidents at sea and on inland waters since 2007, as a result of which eight fatalities occurred.

It lists the kayaking/canoeing incidents are as follows:

  1. MCIB 155 – Gaddagh River, 2007.
  2. MCIB 180 – Clodagh River, 2010.
  3. MCIB 241 – Inchavore River, 2014.
  4. MCIB 275 – River Suir, 2017.
  5. MCIB 283 – Roughty River, 2018.
  6. MCIB 285 – Lough Gill, 2019.
  7. MCIB 296 – Caragh River, 2019.

It says that the circumstances of the above kayaking incidents have some common features in that incidents occurred in winter or spring months, which has implications for cold water shock and the onset of hypothermia.

It also found common features such as:

  • skills levels of the kayaker/instructor not being sufficient for the type of water conditions;
  • mixed ability groups do not have sufficiently qualified leaders/instructors;
  • incidents occurred during the latter half of the excursion.

The MCIB says its annual reports for 2020 and 2021 strongly encouraged all organisations (especially clubs and commercial entities) associated with water sports and water recreational activities to audit their safety systems, and to have regard to the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft and all guidelines or recommendations issued by any governing sports bodies.

It says it made recommendations in 2021, including :

  • The establishment of a directory of commercial providers of coastal sea and river paddle facilities;
  • How best to enhance safety sHow best to enhance safety standards within the commercial paddlesports provider sector;
  • A mandatory registration or licensing scheme of instructors and their qualifications.

The report says it is” disappointing to note that the MCIB continues to be advised of situations where little or no regard was paid to governing body safety guidelines”.

“The MCIB has observed a continuing increase in the number of very serious incidents involving paddlesports, some of which could very easily have led to fatalities,” it says.

The full MCIB report is here

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Vessel owners and operators, masters, skippers, fishers and seafarers are reminded of their responsibilities in relation to carrying out routine tasks and maintenance on board their vessels.

The advice from the Department of Transport comes on the foot of two incident reports from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) published in November last year, which cover marine casualties that resulted in serious injury.

As previously reported on, the MCIB has warned of the dangers of working on ships at height after a 29-year-old Polish national fell from the Arklow Clan while it was berthed in Aberdeen, Scotland in August 2021.

The casualty sustained injuries both legs that required extensive hospitalisation, multiple surgeries and rehab.

Also for, Lorna Siggins wrote about the MCIB’s report into an incident on the trawler FV Marliona in Co Donegal in February 2021, whereby the skipper’s arm was trapped by a trawl door and it was only by the quick action of a crew member that he did not sustain more serious injury or even lose his life.

Marine Notice No 27 of 2023 draws attention to the International Labour Office publication titled Accident prevention on board ship at sea and in port, highlighting its sections on risk assessment and hazard identification, use of PPE, working at height, operating heavy equipment, the dangers associated with particular fishing methods such as trawling and dredging, and adherence to applicable work hours and rest legislation.

For more, see the Marine Notice attached below.

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Modifying vessels, including making changes to a vessel’s engine, without proper evaluation of the consequences, is very dangerous, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board has warned. It has urged the Minister for Transport to introduce rules for open commercial fishing boats, assign a minimum freeboard based on the boat size, and ensure that open boats have sufficient reserve buoyancy to stay afloat if swamped with sea water.

The MCIB Report is into the sinking of the 5.35 metre open fishing boat, Anna Louise, which was “on a routine fishing” trip to lift lobster pots in Bantry Bay. It says this was “a very serious marine casualty.”

The report says the fibreglass boat was operated by the owner’s brother (the Skipper), a qualified and experienced boat operator with valid certification. The Skipper had lifted two strings of lobster pots onboard with a total of ten pots and was retrieving the marker buoy when a wave came over the stern, flooding the boat. The Skipper tried to reach the bailing bucket, but a further wave swamped the boat, and the boat sank quickly. The Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) floated free and was activated. The distress signal was received by Valentia Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) who initiated rescue operations. Bantry inshore lifeboat was tasked as well as Castletownbere lifeboat and Rescue Helicopter R115. The Skipper swam ashore and made his way through fields to a house from where he called to advise he was safe and well. The rescue operations were terminated. The boat was later salvaged from 12 metres of water. There were no injuries and no pollution.

MCIB Report photo of Anna LouiseMCIB Report photo of Anna Louise

The weather on the date of the incident was a maximum of Force 4-5 on the Beaufort Scale.

Waves were of 1.5 metres to 2.5 metres,which is at the top of the allowable range for this type of boat, according to the report.

Modifications had been carried out to the boat, the MCIB report says, which had reduced the freeboard. “These modifications should have been presented, for approval, to the Surveyor who had issued the Code of Practice Certificate in accordance with CoP requirement. The original freeboard was considered small but there is no minimum freeboard specified in the CoP for open boats of this size.

“The boat was swamped by waves coming over the stern and filling the boat with sea water. The boat sank quickly as there was no reserve buoyancy when it was full of water. The boat freeboard had been reduced due to additional weights onboard making it more vulnerable to swamping.”

The Board makes a number of safety recommendations including that the Minister for Transport should issue a Marine Notice reminding owners of fishing vessels of the dangers associated with modifying vessels, including changes to a vessel’s engine, without proper evaluation of the consequences.

“The Minister for Transport should introduce rules for open commercial fishing boats < 15 m to assign a minimum freeboard based on the boat size and to ensure open boats have sufficient reserve buoyancy to allow the boat to stay afloat if swamped with sea water.

“The Minister for Transport should issue instructions to panel surveyors when inspecting open commercial fishing boats that do not have a Declaration of Conformity or CE plate showing the CE category and maximum design load, to require a full load test to ensure boat skippers know the maximum safe loads allowed onboard and the minimum freeboard allowed.

The full report is available on the MCIB website

Published in MCIB

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has recommended that the Minister for Transport should amend or update the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft to advise owners to ensure that auxiliary engines fitted to racing yachts provide the necessary power to allow safe inshore or coastal passage, particularly when adverse weather or sea conditions prevail.

This recommendation is included in the MCIB report into the fire which burnt and sank the yacht Black Magic in Ringabella Bay off Cork Harbour in December 2021.

The MCIB also says the Minister for Transport should publish a Marine Notice highlighting the risks associated with refuelling operations or decanting volatile flammable liquids at sea or alongside, to or from open containers in the vicinity of hot and exposed surfaces.

The smoke plume clearly visible from the shore The smoke plume clearly visible from the shore

The yacht Black Magic with one person onboard, sailed from Crosshaven, Co Cork, for Kinsale Harbour at about 10.30 a.m. on December 13, 2021, but an hour-and-a-quarter later off Cork Harbour the outboard engine on the transom of the yacht, caught fire which spread rapidly. The Skipper called for help in a ‘Mayday’ message on VHF. A fishing boat in the vicinity relayed this to the Coast Guard at Valentia. Another fishing vessel rescued the Skipper at approximately 12.00 hrs, and a Port of Cork RIB that responded to the ‘Mayday’ took him ashore. He was not injured. The yacht sank at 12.48 pm at Ringabella Bay.

The MCIB report makes three findings, concluding that “the continuous operation of the outboard engine onboard yacht Black Magic as it made the passage from Crosshaven marina to the vicinity off Ringabella Bay at the engine’s maximum design capacity caused the engine to suffer a significant mechanical failure such that hot engine components were exposed to petrol fuel and oil lubricants which spontaneously ignited and caused a fire onboard. This consumed the vessel which subsequently sank off Ringabella Bay. 

“The lack of wind and the sub-optimal capacity of the yacht’s outboard engine to power the yacht at the required speed as it motor sailed out of Cork Harbour was a contributory factor in the loss of yacht Black Magic.

Black Magic on fire. Photo: courtesy Cian O'ConnorBlack Magic on fire. Photo: courtesy Cian O'Connor

“Refuelling the outboard engine by topping up the engine’s fuel tank likely resulted in a fuel spillage in the vicinity of the engine and transom. The spilt fuel was likely to have been a contributory factor in the subsequent fire, which started at the outboard engine and resulted in the loss of the yacht.”

The Skipper, who is not named, having read the report, commented to the MCIB that the yacht was “extremely light” and the outboard, which the MCIB identified as a PARSUN 3 horsepower, single cylinder 4-stroke, mounted on a transom bracket was sufficient to push her in the flat calm waters on the day. He said  that he was “hugging the coast in flat calm and zero wind” and had raised the mainsail at the RCYC marina. He said that it took him “a long time to get over this, and was having nightmares for a long time.”

The full investigation report is available on the MCIB website here and see a vid of the burning yacht on youtube here

Published in MCIB

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the death of a Donegal student during a kayaking trip in Co Kerry has said the outing was not properly assessed for risk.

Aisling O’Connor, 21, from Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, drowned after she became trapped under a tree branch in the Upper Caragh river near Glencar, Co Kerry, on November 2nd, 2019.

She was among a party of 27 on a trip organised by the University of Limerick (UL) Kayak Club.

The UL biochemistry student was resuscitated and transferred by helicopter to University Hospital Kerry, but she died two days later.

Another kayaker required medical resuscitation and hospitalisation, and the MCIB described his situation as “a near fatality”.

The 202-page MCIB report called on the UL Kayak Club to “immediately review its procedures and assessments prior to embarking on group river activities” and to examine its procedures in relation to Canoeing Ireland (CI) standards.

It has also recommended the kayak club should “suspend its activities until its safety regime is audited to a standard acceptable to Canoeing Ireland”.

The report says the prevailing conditions, including the features of the river, were “not suitable for all the members of the trip to manage safely”.

It says the trip was” not properly assessed for the risks attached to the prevailing conditions and having regard to the skills and experience of the group taking part in what is a high-risk sport”.

It says those in charge of identifying and assessing the risks in advance, and on the day, were “insufficiently trained and experienced themselves to be able to assess the risks given the combined factors of river conditions and the nature of the group”.

It says this arose as there was “a lack of adherence to the ULKC Safety Statement 2014 and the Trips Policy and Procedure which set out control measures, which led to a lack of accredited training, which in turn led to poor decision making”.

It says that had there being CI- qualified instructors available (or persons with recognisable equivalent training and experience) they “would have identified that the group was too large and its makeup too inexperienced and would not have approved a trip that involved a group of beginners in those conditions, and/or, having embarked would have realised that the conditions being experienced were not suitable and would have terminated the trip”.

It says the gaps in the club safety environment were “contributed to by the lack of any supervision/audit, or capacity to effectively supervise or audit, of the safety of university students engaged in high risk activities by the UL Students’ Union, and by the absence of any overarching, agreed, and communicated, spheres of responsibility between the ULSU and UL, leading to an environment at club level where there was a serious disregard of the ULKC Safety Statement 2014 and Trips Policy and Procedure, and CI recommended standards”.

The report notes that the Upper Caragh River was” a Grade 4 river on the day and a Grade 3 with parts at Grade 4 normally”.

“The river trip planners and leaders did not correctly gauge the river as a Grade 4 river despite the elevated river levels,” it says.

“The recent heavy rains in the locality resulted in the river level being higher, current flows being considerably faster and more powerful to the degree that the intermediate paddlers had difficulties in controlling their boats,”it says, noting that two casualties – one of whom died - were intermediates at Level 2 and Level 3 Skills competency.

The MCIB report says that “river trip planners and leaders made no risk assessment for the river trip on the Upper Caragh River”.

“Had they done so, the assessment of the corrected river grade that day (Grade 4) would have significantly affected the planning of the river trip process and either altered the composition of the river trip groups and/or the conduct of the river trip or may have re-directed the trip to a more suitable venue,” it says.

“ The absence of a comprehensive risk assessment was a causative factor in the capsize incidents,”it says and the kayak club’s 2014 safety statement was not adhered to.

The report says the absence of a contingency plan in the event of the leaders and seconds requiring closer supervision of an increased number of inexperienced kayakers due to the prevailing river conditions was a “contributory factor” in this incident.

The MCIB report makes a number of recommendations for UL Kayak Club, UL Students’ Union and UL, along with the Minister for Transport and Canoeing Ireland.

In its comment on the draft report, the UL Kayak Club defended planning for the trip.

In a joint statement, UL Student Life and University of Limerick said they were “extremely conscious of the heart-breaking loss of life at the centre of this tragic accident”.

“We remain absolutely committed to the health, well-being and safety of our student community of over 18,000 students,” they said.

“The MCIB report into the incident which occurred during a planned outing of the UL Kayaking Club in November 2019 contains recommendations that are relevant to UL Student Life, the UL Kayaking Club, University of Limerick, Canoeing Ireland and the Minister for Transport,” they said.

“UL Student Life and UL have and will continue to work together to consider the findings of the final MCIB Report and to implement the recommendations so that the highest possible safety standards are in place within all clubs to which our students are affiliated,” they said.

“While this was a most tragic accident, it is acknowledged that lessons can and will be learned as well as improvements made to ensure the safety of our student community,” they said.

A link to the full report is here

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has initiated an inquiry into a recent incident on the river Corrib where up to ten people were rescued after their rowing craft were swept towards the Galway city salmon weir.

The incident was one of two which occurred on the river on January 14th when the river was in full flow and three rowing boats attached to the University of Galway and to Coláiste Iognáid secondary school capsized.

No one was injured, but Labour councillor and chairman of Claddagh Watch river safety group Niall McNelis said the situation involving the university students who were caught on the top of the weir was potentially very serious.

The sport of rowing is exempt from mandatory lifejacket use.

The MCIB confirmed early this week that it decided to carry out an investigation into this incident.

“A full report will be published in due course”, an MCIB spokeswoman confirmed, adding that the board “will not be making any further comment”.

As Afloat reported earlier, both incidents occurred between 11 am and 12 noon on January 14th, with the first being the capsize of an octuple or “eight” rowing craft with students from Coláiste Iognáid or “ Jez” secondary school.

The capsize occurred up river from the weir and across from their clubhouse. All students were rescued by their club safety launches within minutes and taken ashore.

A more serious incident occurred shortly after that when two rowing craft with University of Galway students were swept towards the salmon weir, where they were caught by pontoons and capsized due to the strength of the river flow.

Ten rowers - none of whom are obliged to wear lifejackets due to the sport’s exemption - had to be taken from the top of the weir by club safety launches in very challenging conditions.

The Irish Coast Guard confirmed that its Valentia Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted through the national 112/999 call answering service at 12:08hrs on January 14. It said it was reported that ten rowers were “possibly in difficulty at the weir”.

The Galway Fire Service, An Garda Siochana, Coast Guard Helicopter R118 from Sligo, Galway RNLIlLifeboat and Costelloe Bay Coast Guard unit were tasked, it said.

“During the 112/999 call the caller confirmed all boat occupants had been recovered to the club safety boats responding locally,”the Irish Coast Guard said, and rescue units were stood down.

The University of Galway is compiling an internal report. It said support boats were on the water at the time the two boats capsized and no-one was injured.

“ All rowers were brought safely from the water to the river bank within minutes,” a spokesman said.

“The university is deeply grateful to other rowing clubs for their support and prompt response. We also thank the emergency services for their rapid response,”he said.

He confirmed the university has engaged with Rowing Ireland, the national representative body, and is reviewing all safety measures and precautions which are in place for our rowing club and other river users”.

It said it would cooperate fully with any MCIB inquiry, and would support any initiatives to improve water safety and rescue services on the Corrib.

A spokesman for Coláiste Iognáid said that it was satisfied that all safety procedures were followed when its boat capsized, and said all students were fine and parents were informed.

Speaking on behalf of the Galway water users’ multi-agency group, RNLI Galway operations manager Mike Swan said that a dedicated rescue craft above the weir which was on call “24/7” was essential.

Corrib Rowing and Yachting Club said it supported calls for a dedicated rescue boat, as the nearest service up river is the Corrib-Mask Rescue Service in Lisloughrey, Co Mayo.

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