Flooded fish hold may have caused sinking

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 52, August 2017

A flooded fish hold, which may have been caused by a hose left running overnight, is the possible cause of the sinking of fishing vessel, Jubilee, with the loss of three crew members off Banks Peninsula, a Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) report says.

TAIC finds that the lack of a bilge high-level alarm for the fish hold was a missing check in the system, which likely contributed to the sinking of the 16 metre, steel hull vessel in October, 2015. Similarly, there was no indicator in the wheelhouse to show that the bilge pump was operating – which also would have helped alert crew about what was happening.

Maritime NZ has issued a safety bulletin to ships’ surveyors, vessel owners, classification societies, and ship yards, advising them to install safety mechanisms to alert crews of rising water levels in compartments. The fish hold was the only compartment on the Jubilee large enough, on its own, to cause the vessel to sink when flooded.

A trawler of the same design as the Jubilee.
Maritime New Zealand ©2020
A trawler of the same design as the Jubilee.

Maritime NZ is also working with surveyors and designers of fishing vessels to ensure crew have effective means of escape from all parts of a vessel. Another safety issue identified in the TAIC report was that there were too few options for escape from the wheelhouse of the Jubilee in the event of capsizing or sinking.

The only direct exit from the wheelhouse of the 10-year-old vessel was aft through the sliding door on to the main deck. The report says that because the vessel likely sunk by thetern the option of escape onto the roof of the shelter deck would not have been possible.

The Jubilee appeared to have been drifting with at least two crew members resting after 12.30am, until around the time the skipper made an emergency call at 4.20am. When other vessels arrived at the mayday position at dawn they found only a life raft that had self-deployed and an oil slick. The bodies of all three men were subsequently found trapped inside the wheelhouse by divers, with the sliding door on to the main deck shut.

The report says that since the accident the owner has made changes to the sister ships of the Jubilee including:

  • Installing glass-breaking hammers in the wheelhouse.
  • Providing an alternative escape route by fitting an access hatch in the shelter deck window screen.
  • Fitting an indicator in the wheelhouse to show if the fish hatch is not closed.
  • Fitting bilge alarms in the fish hold along with lights and buzzers on deck for the bilge alarms.

TAIC says key lessons include that good watchkeeping involves not only looking after the safe navigation of the vessel, but being “vigilant’ to any factors that affect the state of trim and stability.

To read the full report go to the TAIC website: www.taic.org.nz

Maritime NZ has filed charges in the District Court, under the Maritime Transport Act and Health and Safety in Employment Act, against three related companies involved with the ownership and operation of the Jubilee.

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