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Backgrounder - Safety Action Taken Following the Capsizing of the Small Vessel Melina & Keith II

On September 12, 2005, the small fishing vessel Melina & Keith II, with eight persons on board, was hauling nets off Funk Island Bank, Newfoundland and Labrador. The vessel took on water through the side fishing door and subsequently capsized. Four persons were rescued and the body of a deceased crew member was recovered; three crew members are missing and presumed drowned.

In 2000, the Melina & Keith II underwent major modifications that adversely affected its stability. Transport Canada (TC) did not request a stability assessment following the 2004 quadrennial inspection, nor did the owner. Over the years, the Board has expressed concern that the lack of stability assessments of small fishing vessels compromises their safe operation. The Board has made two recommendations to TC, calling for some form of stability assessment/verification for new and existing inspected small fishing vessels.

In response to the recommendations, TC indicated that, in advance of the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations, it had established an interim policy for determining, based on a list of risk factors, whether a small inspected fishing vessel requires a stability booklet. TC's actions were deemed to be Fully Satisfactory because it took the actions necessary to reduce the risks associated with safety deficiencies identified in the two recommendations.

Following the capsizing and sinking of the Melina & Keith II, the superintendent of Maritime Rescue Sub Centre for the Canadian Coast Guard Newfoundland and Labrador Region circulated a memo to search and rescue (SAR) coordinators regarding reporting systems such as the Information System on Marine Navigation (INNAV), the Automated Information System, and the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). The memo pointed out that, while these systems are not regulated for the provision of maritime distress alerting, they can be useful tools in the handling of maritime SAR incidents that involve unlocated distress alerts and 406 MHz emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), or for identifying resources that may provide assistance. The memo instructed SAR coordinators to use these resources at their earliest opportunity so as to ensure effective SAR response.

The public report M05N0072 and the Communiqué are also available on this site.