The sinking of a fishing vessel in the North Sea two years ago was “almost certainly a result of shell plating or hull weld failure”, an investigation has concluded.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found the Ocean Quest sank 70 miles north-east of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, after an engine room flood on August 18, 2019.
While the source of the flood has not been determined, the MAIB found the likely cause to be a failure in the shell plating or hull weld beneath the main engine.
The report said the floundering vessel had “also been subject to previous shell plating repairs after hull thickness surveys had detected significant erosion”.
Ocean Quest’s crew of five were not able to get the situation under control despite their best efforts with fixed and portable pumps, and they had to be rescued by a coastguard helicopter.
As soon as the flood was discovered, they raised the alarm, and the report determined they followed the onboard routine for bilge pumping, meaning sea suction valves were left partly open.
The MAIB says 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”.
No recommendations were made in the report, however it added: “It nevertheless should serve as a reminder to fishing vessel crews to be prepared for flooding emergencies.”