Update: The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis has issued Findings of Concern resulting from the sinking of the F/V Destination. This document contains a brief description of the accident and its causes, as well as "voluntary actions for an owner / operator of similar vessels and operations to consider in order to reduce the likelihood of recurrence." Click the image on the left to download the document.
The U.S. Coast Guard has released the Marine Board of Investigation report on the sinking of the F/V Destination. At 138 pages, it’s a lot to take in. However, the report’s executive summary gives us the short version of the MBI’s findings.
“The primary causal factors that directly contributed to the casualty include: 1) the vessel’s unsafe stability conditions due to the carriage of heavier crab pots that exceeded the weight used in the stability instructions, 2) additional weight and stability stress from bait loaded high on the vessel, and 3) excessive ice accumulations from freezing spray, and 4) downflooding from the open number 3 hold access hatch.
“Other causal factors include the captain’s failure to: 1) load in accordance with the vessel’s stability information book, 2) prevent excessive icing accumulations from the prevailing freezing spray conditions, and 3) secure the number 3 hold access hatch while transiting.
“Also contributing to the casualty was the owner’s failure to select a qualified individual to perform tests or calculations necessary to evaluate the vessel’s stability and update the stability instructions to reflect heavier crab pots and other alterations to the vessel. Accordingly, the owner failed to provide the captain with accurate information to maintain the vessel in a satisfactory stability condition.”
These findings underscore something we emphasize in AMSEA’s Fishing Vessel Stability Awareness class: it’s almost never one thing that causes a vessel disaster. Disasters at sea are usually the result of a number of contributing factors and decisions. In the absence of any one of those factors, events may have played out very differently. Safety at sea is a matter of stacking the deck in your favor, through properly maintaining, equipping, and operating your boat, and properly training your crew.
It’s worth noting the very first Safety Recommendation in the report:
“8.1.1. Recommend District 13 and District 17 conduct education and outreach to promote awareness, compliance, and training opportunities with CFV stability instructions requirements of 46 CFR 28 Subpart E - Stability…
“The Coast Guard should also encourage CFV owners and captains to attend stability training such as those offered by the NPFVOA and AMSEA. The training should include basic stability principles regarding overloading, alterations and weight creep, watertight integrity, icing, stability risks for the vessel’s fishery, and the effective use of stability instructions specific to the vessel. Increasing awareness of stability will promote the importance of maintaining accurate stability instructions and reduce future catastrophic stability casualties.” (Emphasis added)
In his comments on the report, Rear Admiral J.P. Nadeau, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, concurs with the recommendation.
Read the entire report in order to fully understand the causes of the sinking, the investigation, the recommendations, and the Coast Guards actions arising from this accident. You can read and download the report here. You can learn more about stability training from AMSEA here and from NPFVOA here.