MAIB's report on the collision between the fishing vessel Vertrouwen and the motor cruiser James 2, resulting in the sinking of James 2 with the loss of 3 lives in Sussex Bay on 6 August 2017 is now published.

The investigation report contains details of what happened, subsequent actions taken and a number of safety recommendations.

As a result of the report's findings, the MAIB has issued Safety Messages to the fishing industry, the sea angling community and recreational craft users highlighting the importance of staying alert to the proximity of other vessels and maximising your chances in event of an emergency.

Marine accident summary

At 00:26 on 6 August 2017, the 5.64m recreational motor cruiser James 2 and the 26.24m commercial fishing vessel Vertrouwen collided in Sussex Bay, 1.6 miles south-east of Shoreham harbour.

James 2 was drifting with the wind and tide while the four men on board were rod fishing for mackerel; Vertrouwen had just left port and was on passage to Grimsby. Neither vessel was damaged by the impact but James 2 was swamped by Vertrouwen's wash and sank.

Three of the men on board the motor cruiser tragically drowned; a fourth was rescued from the water 5 hours later by a passing fishing vessel.

Lessons Learned

The MAIB has concluded that:

  • an effective lookout was not being kept on either vessel
  • none of the sea anglers on James 2 were wearing lifejackets
  • James 2 was not showing the correct navigation lights for a vessel of its size
  • the watchkeeper on Vertrouwen was distracted by social media on his phone and vessel administration on a laptop in the wheelhouse


Safety recommendations (2018/102 and 2018/103) have been made to the owners of Vertrouwen to include references within their safety management system to keeping a lookout and when to complete vessel departure reports.

The report adds: "If the sea anglers had been able to raise the alarm and been wearing lifejackets or buoyancy aids, all four of them would almost certainly have survived."

In light of the report, the Royal Yachting Association is today reminding recreational craft users that the RYA SafeTrx app provides all recreational boat users with an easily accessible and simple to use means that can inform HM Coastguard of voyage plans and dynamic location in the event of distress.

This app is freely available to anyone who wants to be safer afloat. It is free to download and there is no charge to use it.

How does it work? 

You can enter your journey details directly from your smartphone and set off knowing that should you not arrive by the time given, a nominated emergency contact will be alerted and advised to initiate appropriate action.

Where an emergency contact calls HM Coastguard about an overdue trip, they will have access to your location and SafeTrx trip data through a secure SafeTrx server.

Since RYA SafeTrx periodically sends your location data back to our servers, the Coastguard's response team can get help directly to you, and quickly.

RYA SafeTrx app can be downloaded from:

Google play (UK)

Requires Android's OS 4.0 and above

App store (UK)

Requires Apple's iOS 7.0 and above