Probe after crew hurt in explosion on boat off Norfolk coast

Post-accident photograph showing the vessel low in water

Post-accident photograph showing the vessel low in water. - Credit: Courtesy of MAIB

An investigation is under way after an explosion on a crabbing boat off the coast of Norfolk, which left some crew with life-changing injuries.

Preliminary investigations into the explosion on the Galwad-Y-Mor suggest the blast may have been triggered by old munitions on the seabed being disturbed as crab pots were recovered.

RNLI Cromer’s all-weather Tamar class lifeboat was launched at 12.14pm on Tuesday, December 15, after reports of the boat in trouble 22 nautical miles from Cromer.

On arrival at the scene, the lifeboat found all seven of the fishing boat's crew had evacuated their vessel and got into a life raft. 

Three were airlifted to Hull by rescue helicopter while the remaining four crew members were transferred into the lifeboat and brought back to shore, where they were treated by paramedics before being transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

There were two UK nationals and five Latvians on board. All crew members suffered injuries, some life-changing, during the explosion.

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The abandoned Galwad-Y-Mor was towed to Grimsby by the tug, GPS Avenger, then lifted out of the water.

The Marine Accident Investigation Board has completed its preliminary investigation of what happened.

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They said: "At about 1120, the crew was in the process of hauling in a string of crab pots; the skipper was in the wheelhouse with other crew members below decks working the pots.

"The hauler was being used to heave in the back rope, and the crew had let the skipper know that there was a lot of tension on the line, when there was an unexpected explosion.

"Galwad-Y-Mor was thrown up from the sea surface, then landed heavily back down; all propulsion and electrical power was immediately lost. The skipper was injured and dazed, but conscious, and saw that the wheelhouse had been completely wrecked.

"As he became aware that other crew members had been badly injured and that the engine room was flooding, the skipper ordered the crew to abandon ship."

Studies found extensive damage to the vessel, but no evidence of an internal explosion.

Shell plating damage

Shell plating damage to the boat. - Credit: Courtesy of MAIB

Investigators said: "The source of the explosion has not been determined, but it was possible that old munitions on the seabed were disturbed as the vessel hauled its pots."

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