Watchkeeping blamed for Irish Sea sinking


THE failure to keep a safe navigational watch has been cited as the main reason for the sinking of the stern trawler Silver Dee in the Irish Sea last summer.

According to the MAIB report: On 29 July 2015, the fishing vessels Silver Dee and Good Intent collided in the Irish Sea. Silver Dee was badly damaged and the vessel started to flood. Silver Dee’s crew were able to transfer across to Good Intent before their vessel sank about 8 minutes later. Good Intent was also damaged but was able to return to Ardglass, Northern Ireland under its own power.

There were no injuries. If Silver Dee had been built today, the current construction standards applicable to wooden fishing vessels would have significantly increased the vessel’s survivability. Despite industry initiatives, the failure to keep a safe navigational watch persists among a number of fishermen, with economic and social factors continuing to take preference over safety considerations.

Safety issues

  • A proper and effective lookout was not maintained on board either vessel.
  • Good Intent’s wheelhouse was left unattended for long periods of time and Silver Dee’s skipper was not monitoring nearby vessels.
  • The wheelhouse watchkeepers on both vessels were probably affected by fatigue.
  • Silver Dee flooded rapidly because the vessel was not fitted with watertight bulkheads.

Recommendation has been made to the skippers of both Silver Dee and Good Intent to improve watchkeeping practices on fishing vessels they may be in charge of in the future.