Abandoned ordnance still hazards fishermen

Shortly before Christmas 2020 the 12m fishing boat Galwad-Y-Mor was hauling her gear when an underwater explosion occurred. The ships company of 7 were all injured, some in life changing ways. The boat was heavily damaged and but for the good practice of the crew would have sunk. The presumption at this stage is that the explosion was caused by an abandoned mine or other piece of historic ordnance.

The incident

Galwad-Y-Mor was fishing approximately 22 nautical miles north of Cromer in Norfolk UK on 15 December 2020 when she heavily damaged by an external explosion. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch have issued a Preliminary Assessment. Galwad-Y-Mor is a custom built vessel that fishes by potting, shooting and retrieving fish traps or creels into which crabs crawl and are trapped.

Galwad-Y-Mor was heavily damaged, a seawater suction pipe fractured, the shell plating ruptured. Her shipyard built bridge and much of her interior was heavily damaged. The skipper was injured and dazed, but remained conscious and was aware that the vessel was flooding and his crew were injured. He was able to raise the alarm by activating the vessel’s EPIRB and texting a fishing colleague at sea.

It appears that shortly after the explosion Galwad-Y-Mor was able to use her VHF, which given the images of destruction released by MAIB is a credit to her builders. While communicating on VHF the nearby wind farm support vessel Esvagt Nor heard her calls on VHF and that she was in need of aid.

Esvagt Nor’s Skipper Brian Kristiansen said “The fishing vessel had yet to send out a Mayday. We had a feeling, however, that there was a need for help close by. So we deployed our FRB (Fast Rescue Boat) to be standby and ready to assist if the situation worsened”,

On arrival, the FRB found that the life raft had been manually deployed, and that the crew were all injured, some seriously with fractures and lacerations. The whole crew were recovered to Esvagt Nor and from there three were airlifted to shore by the UK Coastguard. The fishing vessel remained afloat, though heavily flooded, and was towed to Grimsby where she was lifted and inspected by MAIB.

About Galwad-Y-Mor

Galwad-Y-Mor carries the fishing boat registration number of BRD116. She was built by MMS Ship Repair & Dry Dock Co. Ltd of Hull in 2007 from a design by Macduff Ship Design in Moray, Scotland as a crab boat. She is a monohull with a chined semi-round bilge and an inverted bow at and below the waterline. She was built for Ian Gray and is owned by Galwad Y More Shellfish of Bridlington, company number 04130969 a company whose directors are from the Gray family. At the time of the incident her crew was two UK Nationals and five Latvians.

About Esvagt Njord

Esvagt Njord’ is an 84m long Danish flagged Service Operations Vessel that was assisting Equinor the Norwegian energy company with the development and operation of the 55km2 ‘Dudgeon’ wind farm 17.5 north of Cromer. She has the IMO number 9767039, and was built in 2016.

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch are continuing their investigation.