Following an inquest into the death of crewmember Michael Hanlon in 2013, who allegedly drowned after falling off the 62m motoryacht Faith, the coroner has ruled a verdict of accidental death. However, Hanlon’s family maintain that crucial lessons on the safe operation of superyachts should be learned from his death and the case as initiated significant media attention surrounding the safety of superyacht crew.

Following the inquest, and in light of the recent incident involving crewmember Jacob Nicol, who is in a coma after falling from motoryacht Kibo in Mallorca, The Sunday Times newspaper has published an article discussing the dangers associated with superyacht crew’s work schedules, and certain concerns over their safety.

The Sunday Times article raises concerns over implications of the long hours that superyacht crew work

Hanlon was reported to be making his first voyage as a crewmember on Faith from St Mareen to Antibes. On the day Faith docked at Antibes, Hanlon allegedly went ashore to meet friends, but on returning to the yacht found that there was no officer of the watch on duty and he could not get aboard. His family believe that he fell while trying to climb aboard the vessel. The boat’s owners and insurers maintained that Hanlon had fallen asleep on the third deck, and rolled off the vessel. Hi body was discovered under the boat with injuries that were consistent with a fall.

Part of the investigation was to assess a dialogue between Hanlon and his mother during the crossing, made over Facebook. “As the journey progresses, Hanlon complains of being unable to sleep, and the inquest will study the shift patterns on the yacht and whether he was put under undue stress by his working schedules,” the article reads.

"We have concerns about crew safety particularly in the superyacht sector. It’s such a booming industry that it’s hard to police or regulate."

“On his final day alive … Hanlon had worked from 6pm to 10m the previous night, then from 2am to 6am, and was due to rest. He was online at 4.09am, finished at 6am and was woken at 8am as all crewmembers had to be on duty while the boat docked in Antibes.” At a pre-inquest review in January, Hanlon’s mother told the Cumbria assistant coroner, Alan Sharp, that Hanlon had been asked to work ‘illegal hours’, which had contributed to his exhaustion.

Commenting on the case, Andrew Linington of Nautilus International, a seafarers’ union, believes that the safety of superyacht crew is a growing concern. “We have concerns about crew safety particularly in the superyacht sector. It’s such a booming industry that it’s hard to police or regulate,” he explains. “The sea is a dangerous place; the death rate for sailors is above anything on land. Safety is not taken as seriously as we would like it to be.”

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