The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released a joint report on the investigations into the flooding and foundering of the fishing vessel Audacious on 10 August, 2012 and the flooding and foundering of the fishing vessel Chloe T on 1 September, 2012. Important factors are highlighted in the report that can be exported to the large yacht industry.

"The safety issues that have been identified during the MAIB investigations are remarkably similar," stated the chief inspector of marine accidents in the introduction to the report. "The engine room of both vessels flooded rapidly and the bilge pumps were unable to cope with the ingress; it is likely that both accidents were caused by the failure of the vessels’ seawater cooling systems.”


The sinking of Audacious fishing vessel in the North Sea. Credit: MAIB.

Speaking to Adrian McCourt, managing director at Watkins Superyachts, he primarily noted that it was fortunate that there was neither injury nor loss of life in either incidents. “The precise reasons for the flooding of Audacious and Chloe T are not known,” continues McCourt, “however circumstances indicate that both were caused by seawater cooling system pipework failing due to undetected corrosion. Inaccessible pipework is not a stranger to the yacht market and unless systematically checked and conditions recorded, undetected corrosion is inevitable. It is not a defence against the laws of Archimedes and corrosion to simply say; ‘it can’t be inspected, so we won’t’. Alternative means of monitoring or testing will be required and if this cannot be done, then it must be raised with manager or owner.”

Highlighting the incident in his fleet letter, McCourt further commented that the report interestingly reveals a wider view of MAIB. “Those who have read the MAIB’s French equivalent, BEAmer, report into the loss of motoryacht Yogi will be aware that it was a singularly useless document, outside of a commentary on loss of watertight integrity and stability,” he comments. “[In this case], MAIB have not pulled their punches when taking the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to task, underlining their independence, integrity and ability as a world leader in marine investigations.”

In commenting on the MCA’s effectiveness with statutory surveys, the report states that the MCA’s surveyors face an extremely challenging task; "they are presented with a very large scope of work to cover, and guidance that is, in parts, not credible.” The report is also forthright in stating that; “systems for recording the results of surveys and inspections are inefficient and vulnerable to error. The records did not contain enough detail to determine whether exemptions from earlier rules should continue to apply, or that the vessel’s condition was being systematically checked. It is inevitable that mistakes in the documentation were made and highly likely that parts of the vessel were not surveyed in as much detail or as frequently as intended.
 
The full report conducted by MAIB on both incidents can be read here.

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