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New bid to save lives after fishing boat death probe.

FISHING boats may be forced to carry explosive wire cutters to snip trawl gear if it snags on the sea bed.

Accident investigators have asked the Maritime Coastguard Agency to consider ordering trawlers to carry the equipment.

The new safety measure is outlined in a report published yesterday into the sinking of the Arbroath fishing boat ,Westhaven, with the loss of her four-man crew.

It urges shipping and oil industry bosses to consider how to improve safety, to stop fishing nets becoming snagged on pipelines.

Shipping minister Glenda Jackson said it was important that the cutting gear recommendations were implemented and safety was improved.

Westhaven skipper George Pattison, 38, first mate Mark Hannah, 38, Alan Cunningham and Chris Prouse, 22, all from Arbroath, were drowned in March last year when their trawler capsized. Part of the trawling gear had snagged on a pipeline 120 miles off Aberdeen.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that the combined forces of the lifting action, the propeller and slight swell caused the Westhaven to capsize.

It was so quick and sudden there was no time to send out a radio distress message.

The investigators decided that a delay in the rescue search - due to a mix- up in the registration of an emergency beacon - did not contribute to the loss of life.

They said the life-rafts failed to inflate probably due to wrongly-installed links and called for information on hazardous pipelines to be put be on warning charts.

Glenda Jackson said: "I want further progress in the positioning and correct installation of life-rafts so they can be relied upon to float free from a capsized vessel."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 20, 1998
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