Thursday 18 January 2018

No mayday call from boat as brothers lost at sea

The Irish Coast Guard boat tows the Dean Leanne into Tramore Pier after they recovered it in June 2013
The Irish Coast Guard boat tows the Dean Leanne into Tramore Pier after they recovered it in June 2013
A book od condolence for the three drowned brothers Kenny, Shane and Paul Bolger
Paul Bolger's partner Patricia Moran with her daughter Rachel at the funeral

Mark O'Regan and Ralph Riegel

NO DISTRESS message was received when a boat got into trouble just before the deaths of three brothers in a fishing tragedy, an investigation report has found.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) examined the deaths of the three Bolger brothers, Paul (49), Kenny (47), and Shane (44).

The trio from Passage East, Co Waterford, lost their lives in a lobster fishing accident on June 12, 2013.

The report said that whatever caused their boat, the "MFV Dean Leanne'' to founder, occurred very quickly, because no mayday call was received by VHF radio, and no flares were set off.

It also found that two of the crew were wearing defective lifejackets.

It said the chances of survival would have been improved if the life jackets had been in a good condition.

The report concluded the "Personal Flotation Devices'' worn by two of the fishermen had not been subject to proper maintenance.

The devices were not in a serviceable condition and were not capable of "sustaining buoyancy".

"The chances of survival would have been enhanced if the PFDs were in good condition,'' according to the findings.

"The vessel possibly encountered wind or wave action or a combination of both,'' it said.

Swamped

"This may have caused the vessel to be swamped and lose reserve of buoyancy, beyond which it was unable to recover for its loaded condition, resulting in its sinking,'' said the findings."

It said that if an Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB) had activated this could have assisted in a timely and direct response from the emergency services.

The EPIRB is geared to automatically trigger a safety alert and a position signal if a boat sinks or capsizes.

It had been tested by the owner in March 2013 and again two months later.

But the regulations stipulate that this test should be carried out on a monthly basis.

Alarm

The report stated that if details of the intended trip had been left with a person back on land - as well as details of expected latest times of return - then the alarm could also have been raised with the emergency services.

The report added that the boat did not possess a valid Declaration of Compliance in accordance with the safety code of practice as it applies to fishing vessels.

And it said that the vessel "was carrying more crew than indicated in the Declaration of Compliance, which listed safety equipment for two people, but there were three people on board.

The deaths of the three experienced fishermen rocked the tight-knit fishing village of Passage East.

A post-mortem examination found that they died from a combination of drowning and hypothermia.

Among those bereaved as a result of the tragedy was the brother's mother Margaret, Paul's daughter Rachel (12), and Shane's children, Calum (16) and Martha (4).

Irish Independent

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