The MAIB report reveals that De Craemer was swept overboard from Vidar in very rough seas as the trawler rolled heavily to starboard and a large volume of water came over the gunwale and into the starboard walkway by the deck house. The deckhand was recovered from the water about eleven minutes later by fellow crewmembers but he could not be revived.
“The risks to the crew on deck caused by the environmental conditions and the vessel’s low freeboard were not properly assessed,” the report assesses. “The work being undertaken was not urgent and could have waited until the vessel was in more sheltered waters.” And in analysing the main cause of his death, the report concluded that they lack of lifejackets played a critical role: “His chances of survival were reduced by cold water shock and because he was not wearing a lifejacket. Lifejackets were available on board but were not worn by any of the crew.”
"We would not encourage exposure by conducting such exercises in foul weather, but it may be worth a tabletop exercise or general discussion in how to recover a casualty in high seas."
Speaking to Adrian McCourt, managing director of Watkins Superyachts, about the incident, he agreed that some synergies existed with the superyacht world. “This is a tragic loss of life which would have been avoided by wearing a lifejacket,” he adds. “The exposure risk to the crew on deck was unnecessary given it was not urgent and the vessel was moving towards sheltered waters. The crew responded quickly to the emergency but had great difficulty in recovering De Craemer from the water,” McCourt continues. Consequently, valuable time was lost and two of the vessel’s crew put themselves at risk"
The report further reveals that Vidar did not carry any dedicated means of recovering a man overboard, and the crew had not completed any on board man-overboard drills. Consequently, McCourt advises that superyacht crew should undertake such practices as valuable preparation for such instances: "Indeed, man-overboard drills often focus on maintaining sight of the casualty, manoeuvring the yacht and recovering the target in calm waters. We would not encourage exposure by conducting such exercises in foul weather, but it may be worth a tabletop exercise or general discussion in how to recover a casualty in high seas.”
To read the full MAIB report on the accident here.