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Commercial Fishing



Capsize and sinking of fishing vessel Nancy Glen. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published its report into the sinking of the Clyde trawler, Nancy Glen, concluding that modifications made to the vessel reduced its stability.

On 18 January 2018, the prawn trawler Nancy Glen capsized and later sank in Lower Loch Fyne, Scotland; only one of the three crew survived. Nancy Glen was trawling when its starboard net became fouled with mud and debris from the seabed during a turn to starboard, and the vessel capsized rapidly. One of the crew escaped but the skipper and the other crewman were trapped inside. The missing crewmen’s bodies were recovered when the wreck was salvaged.

The MAIB’s investigation established that through life modifications to Nancy Glen, culminating in the replacement of the crane with a heavier model, had reduced the vessel’s stability, significantly increasing its vulnerability to capsize. Despite the skipper’s attempt to bring the situation under control, the combined effect of the increased towing load from the fouled net, the turn to starboard and the limited stability meant that Nancy Glen was unable to recover from the rapid heel to starboard.

Evidence from small fishing vessel capsizes, coupled with the limited adoption of the Wolfson Mark (stability guidance to vessels), suggests that owners and skippers are unaware of the risks of not conducting stability assessments.

The case for introducing stability criteria for small fishing vessels has been made by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and accepted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Nevertheless, until such criteria have been implemented, the risk of capsize resulting from unknown stability conditions will endure. A safety recommendation has been made in this report to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure that the stability of small fishing vessels is regularly assessed.

“The capsize and sinking of Nancy Glen, which resulted in the tragic loss of two respected Tarbert fishermen, has again demonstrated the consequences of not knowing how stable a boat is. Too many of the UK’s small fishing vessels have no baseline measure of their stability, so their operators cannot assess the effect of material modifications or changes to fishing methods.

“The MAIB has recommended that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency implements changes to legislation to require both new and existing small fishing vessels to assess their current stability and to continue to monitor this throughout the life of the vessel.”