The coroner at the inquest into the deaths of Harvester crew, Gareth Willington and his son, Daniel, is calling for the wearing of lifejackets to be mandatory.
11 November 2016
The coroner at the inquest into the deaths of two fishermen off St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is asking the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to make the wearing of lifejackets mandatory.
It comes just over a week after the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Steve Clinch, called for the introduction of new legislation to make it compulsory for commercial fishermen to wear them.
Gareth Willington, 59, and his son, Daniel, both died when the Harvester fishing vessel sank off St David’s Head in April 2016.
Neither of them were wearing lifejackets, according to the findings of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
The body of 32-year-old Daniel has never been found. His father was rescued from the water but later died.
The father and son were fishing for crab and lobster when the accident happened.
No mayday call was made and the authorities were only notified when the boat was found on rocks off St David’s Head.
The MAIB investigation found Harvester’s automatic identification system unit was switched off at the time of the accident.
Neither fishermen used a personal locator beacon.
Investigators believe that the “likely scenario” is that a crew member working on deck became entangled in the back rope. The other crew member could then have gone to his assistance, resulting in the father and son going overboard through the large opening in the transom.
This was rejected by Gareth Willington’s widow, Gail.
However, coroner Mark Layton said he was bound to accept the findings of the MAIB, even though it was only a “likely scenario”.
Layton ruled Gareth Willington’s death as misadventure and the death of his son, Daniel as accidental.
He said he would be writing to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to request that it becomes mandatory for lifejackets to be worn on “any sea vessel”, “just like wearing seatbelts in a moving car.”
His call was backed by Mrs Willington.
3 May 2016
The search for the missing crew member of the Harvester fishing vessel has been called off, pending further information, says the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Daniel Willington, 32, has not been seen since the boat hit rocks at St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire on 28 April. His father, 59-year-old Gareth Willington was rescued from the water that night but later died.
An extensive search of the area has been carried out by the Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter based at St Athan, Coastguard Rescue Teams and five RNLI lifeboats from St Davids, Fishguard, Angle and Little and Broad Haven.
Next of kin have been informed and police officers are in contact and supporting the families.
The National Maritime Operations Controller for UK Coastguard, Alex Smith, said: “Despite an intensive search including the helicopter, RNLI lifeboats and Coastguard Rescue Teams we have been unable to locate the remaining missing crew. Our thoughts are with all those involved.”
Dyfed-Powys Police Sergeant Gareth Walters said: “Specialist officers are continuing to support the families involved in this tragic incident.”
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has begun an investigation into the sinking of the fishing vessel.
The search for the crew of the Harvester began on 28 April after the UK Coastguard received a 999 call from a member of the public reporting the fishing vessel in difficulty.
The boat was spotted near to the rocks at St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire. It later sank, and debris was found on the surface of the water.
The Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter based at St Athan, Coastguard Rescue Teams from St David’s Head and Fishguard and five RNLI lifeboat crews were all scrambled to search the area.
At the time, it was unclear how many people were onboard, although it is thought that two local fishermen were on the Harvester when it sank.
One man was pulled from the water last night and transferred to hospital, but his condition is not known.
The search resumed at 6am on 29 April after being stood down at about 9.30pm the previous night.
Volunteer crew from two lifeboats from St Davids and one each from Fishguard, Angle and Little and Broad Haven are currently conducting searches in an area between St Brides Bay and Strumble Head.
Coastguard Rescue Teams and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter are also continuing to look for any survivors.
The Lifeboat Press Officer at St Davids RNLI, Jim Phillips, said: “Our volunteer lifeboat crews will continue to search until told otherwise by HM Coastguard. Our thoughts are with all those who were on board and their friends and families.”
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has announced that it has started an investigation into the sinking of the Harvester. The fishing boat operated out of Milford Haven.