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Alcohol played part in two fatal GPS Battler incidents

Alcohol played part in two fatal GPS Battler incidents
An investigation by the UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has shown that alcohol was a factor in two separate fatal incidents relating to the tug GPS Battler.

In the first incident on 13 August 2013, British captain Paul Sydney drowned after a wave flooded the open tender returning him to the anchored tug in Almeria, Spain. Despite swimming clear of the submerging dinghy, Sydney lost consciousness and eventual efforts to revive him failed.

The ship's mate, who had travelled with Sydney to collect a takeaway meal for the crew, was recovered from the water uninjured after a crewmate reached him with a life ring.

Contrary to the vessel's drug and alcohol policy, Sydney was found to be 25% over the UK's drink-drive limit.

In a second incident a mate joining the GPS Battler was found to be four times over the UK drink-drive limit when he died waiting for access to the ship to be made safe. The mate fell into the water and quickly became motionless; the crew were unable to recover him. The mate had been in the water for almost an hour and had drowned by the time the Spanish Coast Guard recovered his body.

In the wake of the incidents, the vessel's operator has put in place a number of measures to ensure that safety management systems are properly followed on its vessels.

"Both accidents highlight the difficulties encountered in implementing effective safety management and safe systems of work on small boats such as workboats," the MAIB report stated.