Over the last few months there was a significant number of marine incidents reported and I’m guessing a few that weren’t reported!

It’s interesting to note that during this period there were a number of incidents reported involving Class 4 (H&D) vessels.

Let’s look at a few incidents by class…

Class 4

  • While taking down the sails the jib fell overboard and took down the mast losing the mast and rigging overboard
  • Yacht ran aground
  • Vessel capsized

Class 3

  • A fisherman who was working solo fell overboard and drowned.
  • Fishing vessel struck a submerged reef with a potential risk of pollution
  • Fishing vessel started taking on water and sank
  • Crew member bitten by a sea snake

Class 2

  • Non-passenger vessel collided with a recreational vessel
  • Non-passenger vessel collided with a moored tug and barge
  • Non-passenger vessel capsized in a large swell
  • A crew member was crushed between a pile and the punt’s motor and protection frame then fell overboard suffering serious injury.

Class 1

  • A vessel grounded in mud and rocks attempting to avoid a collision with another vessel
  • A fire and smoke occurred due to wiring connectors

What do many of these incidents have in common?

I asked a number of people that question and most replied many were just unavoidable accidents but…were they?

Without having all of the details we could say that being involved in a collision, running aground and capsizing may have more to do with failing to keep an adequate lookout than just being an unavoidable accident.

The safety and wellbeing of you and your crew relies on the watchkeeper maintaining an adequate lookout. An adequate lookout means knowing what’s around you at all times!

During recent Operational Audits we’ve undertaken more than one Master settled themselves in the helm seat and only got out when in need of a coffee or toilet break.

Is that appropriate? I don’t think so! Some said, “I have all the electronics to ensure I know what’s around me and the depth of water under the keel so why bother getting out of my seat?”

My response to that is if you have steelwork behind the radar you have a shadow or interference that may hide a vessel behind you and how well does radar pick up a yacht without a radar reflector?

As I said, your safety and the safety of all persons onboard and the vessel is in your hands when on watch!

While we all try to avoid fires onboard sometimes they do happen so ensuring your firefighting appliances and equipment are all in good working order is a valuable safety measure.

Flooding can be caused by many reasons including a breach in the hull, unsecured hatches/doors, broken or fractured water pipes, deck hoses dropped and falling into an open hatch and many other reasons.

Regular inspections and maintenance are the key to preventing flooding situations as is ensuring all hatches and sea doors are kept closed and secured.

Crushing incidents are almost always preventable if you follow the appropriate procedures and ensure the right safety equipment is available. Another issue I’ve noted on many occasions is that the work vessel is not adequately secured to the other vessel or structure.

This has the potential to allow unnecessary movement or space between the other vessel or structure which in turn provides an unsafe workplace. While, at times this may be necessary the following of safe work procedures is critical to your safety!

Interaction with sea snakes is inevitable when working on fishing vessels but ensuring you have current knowledge of how to deal with them and snake bite bandages you’re well on the way to saving a life. I’m pleased to say that the snake bite victim survived due largely to their First Aid training and the onboard crew training we deliver.

Working solo can be as dangerous as it gets so it’s imperative that if you do work solo you have appropriate safety measures in place. These may be wearing a PFD or harness or other measures but…you do need them for your own safety!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our top recommendations are…

  1. Ensure a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor; and
  2. Install a Watch Guard or use your mobile phone’s timer if you don’t have a watch guard;
  3. Ensure regular inspections are undertaken of the hull, machinery and equipment;
  4. Ensure all hatches and sea doors are kept closed when at sea; and
  5. Remain aware at all times


Our number one tip is to make sure your SMS is up to date and has all the relevant procedures for both operations and emergencies and…

…all the crew are inducted into the SMS and all procedures!