MCA survey


More than 130 yachtsmen and other seafarers have drowned over the last six years because they were not wearing a lifejacket, an MCA survey shows. Several fatal incidents occurred when yachtsmen were transferring from their tenders to the mother ship.

Of four such incidents reviewed in 2012 all the tenders capsized. In one incident in February, a man was going out to his boat moored offshore to travel to a friend’s vessel which was having engine trouble. He was on his own in his rowing boat when the vessel capsized. Despite an extensive search he was not found – divers later located his body. He might have survived had he been wearing a lifejacket which would have kept him afloat and his head out of the water, even if he had been unconscious.

These figures have been compiled by an expert panel review comprising: Angling Trust, RNLI, Royal Yachting Association, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, National Water Safety Forum, British Canoe Union, the lifejacket industry, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and University of Portsmouth.

In March 2013 the panel reviewed the Coastguard/MAIB data and assessed whether a lifejacket or buoyancy aid would have made a difference in saving a person’s life. A decision was made about whether it was probable, possible or unlikely that the person would have been saved by wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. The panel also took into consideration factors such as whether the lifejacket or buoyancy aid was suitably maintained, correctly worn and fit for purpose.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) recorded 132 maritime fatalities in 2012. The expert panel reviewed 45 fatalities where the casualty might have worn a lifejacket or buoyancy aid.

Of the 45 fatalities, the panel judged that it may have been appropriate for 27 people to have been wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid. Of these 27, the panel agreed that 20 would probably or could possibly have been saved had they been wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid.

Figures have been compiled by the panel for the last six years and during that period the panel judged that 136 people’s lives might have been saved had they been wearing a lifejacket or buoyancy aid.