Tragic scallop fisherman was not wearing lifejacket when he fell overboard

A deckhand who died after falling overboard from a scallop dredger near Scalloway was not wearing a lifejacket, an accident report has said.

On 23rd June last year Scott Rennie, from Newton Stewart, slipped and fell into the water from a scallop tipping door on the King Challenger after the vessel “took a gentle roll”, the report states.

He had climbed onto the horizontal tipping door to unhook a damaged dredge bag.

According to a Marine Accident Investigation Branch report, Mr Rennie was not wearing a lifejacket and the vessel was 12 nautical miles south-west of Scalloway. The sea temperature was 10.5ºC.

Mr Rennie, 31, was brought back on board in less than 10 minutes, though he was unconscious and showed no signs of life.

The crew was unable to resuscitate him and despite being airlifted to hospital he died.

In its investigation the MAIB found the crew regularly worked on open tipping doors without securing a lifeline to the vessel or wearing a lifejacket. None of the crew were wearing lifejackets at the time.

It also found Mr Rennie was a strong swimmer but was “incapacitated” within four minutes of falling into the water.

Also “the crew were unprepared for the rescue of an unconscious casualty from the water”.

“Following the accident the owners of King Challenger prohibited their crews from climbing onto tipping doors without the use of a harness and lifeline,” the report said.

“The owners have been recommended to review the risk assessments for all vessels, paying particular attention to the risks associated with maintenance tasks.”

The MAIB said Mr Rennie was seen 20 metres astern of the vessel, trying to swim towards it and a crew member threw a lifebuoy towards him but he was unable to reach it.

Following other attempts a deckhand donned a life jacket and jumped into the water to put a harness around Mr Rennie and he was lifted onto deck. The crewman then swam the length of the vessel and climbed up the ladder on the hull without a lifeline.

“Given the speed with which Scott was recovered from the water, it is likely that he would have been recovered alive had he been wearing a lifejacket,” the report found.


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