On 28 November 2019, the trawler UK-165 Lummetje was lost in coastal waters near Texel. The two crew members lost their lives. The investigation revealed that the fishing boat first capsized before sinking. In December 2020, while the investigation into the UK-165 was underway, the UK-171 Spes Salutis also capsized. The three-men crew of this boat were scarcely able to be rescued. These two occurrences made it clear that on fishing boats of this type, stability can be rapidly and dangerously compromised as a consequence of asymmetric loading conditions. This finding was reinforced by calculating the stability in asymmetric loading conditions of the TX-21 Pieter van Aris, a different type of fishing boat.
Real risk of capsizing due to asymmetric loading conditions
The fact that under asymmetric loading conditions stability decreases is not in itself new. However the fact that stability can be compromised so rapidly and dangerously was a surprise. It increases the risk of capsizing. These realizations led the Safety Board to publish an interim warning in April 2021, ahead of today’s publication. The aim of this warning was to inform the crews of similar trawlers to the UK-165 and UK-171 as quickly as possible of this risk, to allow them to take the appropriate action.
Certification process for beam trawlers
In response to the warning, the fishery sector took immediate action. In addition to informing trawler crews and other parties involved in sea fishing in the Netherlands, work was started on developing structural solutions to mitigate this risk.
In the certification process for beam trawlers, asymmetric loading conditions are not included in stability calculations. In its report, the Dutch Safety Board recommends that the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management rectifies this situation in the future, as indeed specified by law. In addition, the Safety Board has issued a series of recommendations that should bring about preventive measures, knowledge development and alterations to ship design for current and future fishing boats. However, awareness of the safety risk remains essential, at all times.
Broader study needed into entire trawler fleet
The investigation published today focuses on beam trawlers with a length of less than 24 metres. The Safety Board recommends that the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management launches a broader investigation, with a view to increasing the safety benefits for the entire Dutch fishing fleet. The aim of this investigation should be to map out the safety risk of asymmetric loading conditions on trawlers of all lengths.