MAIB recommends use of Wolfson method

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has now published its report into the capsize and sinking of the fishing vessel JMT with the loss of two lives. The accident occurred off Rame Head, near Plymouth on 9th July 2015 whilst the 11.4 metre JMT was operating in benign weather conditions and in daylight.

The report concluded that the vessel’s stability had been adversely affected by structural modifications and by aspects of the vessel’s operation, and that its capsize was possibly triggered in the process of releasing the catch on deck.

In 2015 MAIB appointed the Wolfson Unit to conduct a stability assessment of the vessel in typical loading conditions and in the likely operational conditions at the time of its loss. The stability assessment included a lines survey on the wreck, an inclining experiment and the calculation of several loading scenarios using a computer model prepared in Wolfson’s hydrostatics and stability program HST.

Currently, fishing vessels less than 15m length overall do not have to meet stability criteria but five stability methods are available and are described in MGN 427(F). One of these is the Wolfson Method, which stems from MCA Research Projects conducted by the Wolfson Unit, and provides stability guidance to vessels without stability data such as F/V JMT. The Wolfson Method is based on the vessel size and provides guidance on the level of safety from capsizing in various seastates by means of a ‘traffic light’ chart for use by skippers and a freeboard mark to be applied on the hull.

The MAIB report states that ‘only the Wolfson method would have provided an indication of the vessel’s operational limits and when caution was required’ and a recommendation has been made to members of the Fishing Industry Safety Group to ‘explore ways to encourage owners of fishing vessels of under 15m LOA that are engaged in trawling, scalloping and bulk fishing to affix a Wolfson Mark to their vessels and operate them in accordance with the stability guidance provided’.

The MAIB report may be obtained from this link.

For more information of the Wolfson Unit’s vessel stability and safety services, please see our Vessel Safety Page.

Photo credit: MAIB

Wolfson Unit MAIB JMT investigation