The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) says inadequate training is to blame for the sinking of the tug boat, Asterix.

12 May

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report into the sinking of the tug boat, Asterix.

The vessel capsized on 30 March 2015 while it was moving the small chemical tanker, Donizetti off its berth at Fawley oil refinery in Southampton.

The coxswain of the Asterix was trapped in the upturned wheelhouse for more than an hour before being rescued by a colleague.

The tug was eventually recovered, but was declared “a constructive total loss”.

Asterix tug which capsized and sank on 30 March 2015 being recovered

The Astrix being recovered. Credit: Hants Marine Unit/Twitter


The MAIB has now identified safety issues with the way the crew were trained.

It says the coxswain’s training did not equip him to use the gog rope/bridal effectively. This is used to reduce the risk of the tug being pulled over sideways. Launch crews were also not sufficiently experienced in the use of the tug’s emergency release mechanism and could not activate it effectively.

The report also highlights weaknesses in the communication between the Donizetti and Asterix, and that the launch was not being monitored effectively.

The MAIB has now made recommendations to the owner of the Asterix, Østensjø Rederi, which has already carried out its own internal investigation. It has drawn up an action plan to prevent a repeat of the accident.

Further recommendations have been made to Associated British Ports Southampton with regard to reviewing its assessment of towage operations within the port.

The National Workboat Association is also being recommended to take into account the MAIB’s findings in its ongoing development of guidance on towing operations.

31 March 2015

A man was saved from drowning by a local boat worker after the tug he was onboard capsized and began sinking in Southampton Water on Monday evening.

Severe weather conditions saw Asterix overturned at the Fawley Oil Terminal at around 7pm, with one crewmember becoming trapped on board.

Tug Asterix rescue in Southampton Water

The operation to rescue the coxswain. Credit: Cowes RNLI


Related articles

A second managed to jump clear of the vessel and swim to safety.

RNLI volunteers from Cowes and Calshot, Red Funnel ferries, police and a coastguard rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent all attended the dramatic scene as they desperately tried to locate the missing crewman.

One of the lifeboat crews had tried banging on the hull of Asterix while it was still visible above the water but received no response.

Shortly after, a local worker who was watching the capsized vessel from a nearby pontoon glimpsed an arm in a small pocket of air behind the wheelhouse window.

Without any hesitation, he leapt into the water, smashed the glass of the wheelhouse, pulling the trapped crewmember out of the sinking vessel.

Both men were then evacuated from the water just before the tug sank.

All three men were later transferred to hospital with some of them being treated for hypothermia.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said in a statement on Monday night: “The vessel which is a commercial tug, remains capsized and sunk and weather conditions on scene tonight (Monday) are strong winds and poor visibility. There is no reported pollution on scene tonight.”