The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published a comprehensive report on the capsize of a rigid raiding craft being used by Army Cadet Force. This craft, 7.35 metres in length, is similar in appearance to a large dory and powered by a 200 HP outboard engine. The craft, with two others, was on exercise in the Scottish Isles. The weather worsened. One of the boats, which had accumulated a large amount of water on board, capsized.
Four of the 12 persons on board initially surfaced under the upturned hull, but only three managed to swim clear. The fourth, a 14 year old female cadet remained under the hull. Although a headcount was conducted, it failed to identify that the girl was missing. She was later found under the boat on the rocky shore. She was taken to hospital by helicopter but was pronounced dead on arrival.
The MAIB investigation identified a number of factors which contributed to the capsize and the death of the cadet, including:
- The weight distribution within the boat reduced the freeboard forward and increased the likelihood of water being shipped.
- Water accumulated on the deck because the boat’s self-bailers had not been lowered.
- The actions taken by the boat’s coxswain did not take account of the free surface effect of the accumulated water.
- The lifejacket worn by the female cadet was not suitable for use by children and would have prevented her escape from the upturned hull once inflated.
- The delay in identifying that she was missing undoubtedly reduced the chance of her survival.
If you are involved in the operation of dories or RIB’s and/or in organising group activities afloat, we strongly recommend that you read the full report of this tragic accident.
It can be found on www.maib.gov.uk