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On 18 August 2019 about 70 miles north-east of Fraserburgh, the UK-registered trawler, Ocean Quest, sank as a result of an engine room flood. The source of the flood has not been determined however it was almost certainly a result of shell-plating or hull-weld failure. The crew tackled the flood with fixed and portable pumps but were not able to get the situation under control. The alarm was raised as soon as the flood was discovered. The crew were well-prepared for the abandonment and all were rescued safely by a coastguard helicopter.

Safety Issues

  • Flooding presents an immediate threat, and every effort must be made to pump out the floodwater. In this case, the crew followed their onboard routine for bilge pumping, which meant that sea suction valves were left partly open. This potentially restricted the bilge pumps’ effectiveness and, although this procedure may have been appropriate for bilge pumping, it was not appropriate during an emergency.

  • Training and drills help to prepare for emergencies. Ocean Quest’s crew had conducted regular abandon-ship drills so were well prepared for that phase of the emergency, and all were rescued safely.

  • Ultrasonic hull thickness measurement is only a sampling process and does not provide 100% coverage, so is not guaranteed to detect all areas of erosion.

No recommendations are made in this report; nevertheless, it should serve as a reminder to crew of the importance of being prepared for flooding emergencies. https://www.gov.uk/maib-reports/flooding-and-sinking-of-trawler-ocean-quest

Photo credit: from the MAIB report.


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