Coveney hopes lessons can be learned from Tit Bonhomme tragedy

Minister to launch new marine safety initiative at Union Hall site of sinking

The Tit Bonhomme fishing vessel, above, sank in January 2012 with the loss of five lives.

The Tit Bonhomme fishing vessel, above, sank in January 2012 with the loss of five lives.

Mon, Apr 15, 2013, 10:15

Lessons must be learned from the Tit Bonhomme fishing tragedy in which five lives were lost, Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney said as he confirmed plans to launch a new marine safety intitiative at the scene of the tragedy in Union Hall later this year.

Mr Coveney said the recently published Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the tragedy in which five men died had made difficult reading for the bereaved families, but he hoped the tragedy would lead to improvements in maritime safety.

Together with Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, he would be launching a Marine Safety Initiative in Union Hall in June with the aim of reducing the number of marine incidents such as that of the Tit Bonhomme, he said.

“Hopefully we will learn lessons, not just from the Tit Bonhomme but from all of the accidents of recent years, and we are going to employ technology and knowhow and best practice to ensure that we minimise the likelihood of accidents happening,” he said.

Surprise expressed

Meanwhile, a highly experienced West Cork fisherman who was centrally involved in the search for the Tit Bonhomme crew has expressed surprise at the MCIB report finding that crew fatigue as the main cause of the tragedy.

Bill Deasy, who has more than 40 years’ fishing experience and whose knowledge of the currents in Glandore Harbour was central to the Tit Bonhomme crew search last year, said he was puzzled by that aspect of the report.

According to the 60-page MCIB report published last week, “the single overriding causal factor is considered to be insufficient rest for the crew and that the regulations on hours of work and rest appear not to have been complied with”.

Mr Deasy said the Tit Bonhomme had left her home port of Union Hall at 2.40pm on Friday, January 13th, 2012 and had only 42 boxes of fish on board when she turned for home at about 2am on Sunday morning, January 15th.

“They left at 14.40, they shot their first nets at 17.30 and would have towed those for five hours when fellows could have rested, and on my reading of the report, they shot the nets a further four times - so that’s five tows over the course of Friday and Saturday.

“They would have been able to rest during the tows, and given the fishing was poor and they only caught 42 boxes of fish - and with five of them working on gutting the fish - I reckon that would be a maximum of seven and a half hours on boxing the fish,” Mr Deasy.

“Given those sort of figures in terms of hours towing and the size of the catch, to my mind they would definitely have had adequate rest periods, and I find it very difficult to comprehend how the MCIB came up with its finding on crew fatigue.”