Alcohol a Factor in Two Fatal Accidents Involving UK-Flagged Workboat – MAIB Report

Mike Schuler
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July 29, 2015

The UK-flagged GPS Battler. Photo: MAIB


Alcohol played a role in two fatal accidents involving a UK-flagged workboat that occurred less than five months apart in Spain, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch has determined.

MAIB on Wednesday published its investigation report into the two fatalities connected with the operation of the workboat GPS Battler occurring August 13, 2014 and January 6, 2015. The report said that investigations identified that elements of the safety management system on board the workboat had not been followed; notably, that the alcohol consumption levels of the deceased were in both cases above the legal limit.

The report said that the first incident occurred soon after the open tender returning workboat master and mate from the marina in Almeria, Spain to the anchored vessel became overwhelmed in choppy seas, sending both men into the water. The mate was recovered from the water uninjured but the master drown in the incident.

Less than 5 months later, a mate joining GPS Battler fell into the water from the quayside in Marin, Spain. His body was recovered from the water almost an hour later.

MAIB said that the deceased in the first accident was 25% over the UK’s legal drink and drive limit and the deceased in the second accident was almost four times over the limit.

“Both accidents highlight the difficulties encountered in implementing effective safety management and safe systems of work on small boats such as workboats,” the MAIB said in its report.

The report added that since the accidents, GPS Marine Contractors Ltd, GPS Battler’s operator, has taken action aimed at improving the effectiveness of the safety management system on board its workboats, as well as action to better monitor crews’ adherence to its drug and alcohol policies.

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