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NTSB Releases Safer Seas Digest 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its Safer Seas Digest 2018: Lessons Learned from Marine Accident Investigations. The annual digest is a summary of NTSB investigations of marine accidents from the previous year. Of the thirty accidents investigated, seven involved commercial fishing boats.

The facts of each accident are summarized, as are the factors contributing to the accident. Of particular interest is the Lessons Learned section. Many accidents have contributing factors in common and this section of the digest makes recommendations for preventing accidents from occurring. The safety issues examined include:

  • High-water/high-current conditions

  • Watertight integrity

  • Training for emergencies

  • Remote emergency shutdowns

  • Ice accumulation

  • Reporting issues

  • Cooling water chemistry

  • Threaded fasteners and components

  • Mooring in strong winds

  • Identifying navigation hazards

  • Fixed ventilation openings

  • Recognizing metal fatigue in propeller shafting

  • Precautions while unloading catch

  • Alternative emergency communications in Alaska region

The accidents investigated resulted in numerous injuries and nine lives lost. We would all do well to at least read the lessons learned so that we learn from the hard experience of others.

It’s worth noting that Lessons Learned mentions the importance of adequate training of all crew in a vessel’s emergency procedures. If you or your crew have been lax in practicing your boat’s emergency procedures, remember that the 46 CFR 28.270(c) requires that the master of each vessel ensure “that drills are conducted and instruction is given to each individual on board at least once each month.”

If you or your crew need training, check out our class listing on our home page at or sign up our Class Waiting List and receive an email message when we schedule a class in your area.

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