The crew of a fishing boat which sunk off the north-east coast have been praised for being able to escape alive.
Five people were airlifted from the stricken Ocean Quest vessel before it sank 70 miles north-east of Fraserburgh in August 2019.
Now a Marine Accident Investigation Board report into the incident has commended the crew for being “well prepared for the abandonment”.
The Broch-registered boat found itself in difficulty from a flood in the engine room at around 5.30am on Sunday, August 18, and raised the alarm with Aberdeen Coastguard.
The crew’s attempts to pump the water from the ship proved fruitless, despite hurried offerings of other pump appliances from nearby vessels Odyssey, Lynden II, Fruitful Bough, and later the Coastguard rescue helicopter.
The crew prepared for abandonment as electricity was lost, and the decision was made to evacuate at 7.55am.
All five of the men on board, skipper James Cowie and his four crew of Filippino nationals, were airlifted to Inverness uninjured, before the Ocean Quest went to its watery grave at 9.15am.
Crew were well prepared
The new report said: “The source of the flooding has not been determined; however, the most likely cause was assessed to have been a shell plating or hull weld failure beneath the main engine.
“This is based on the fact that water was seen welling up underneath the engine in the early stages of the emergency, and this was not an area where any sea water valves or pipework existed.
“Additionally, sea water cooled machinery continued to run, strongly suggesting that there had not been a failure of sea water pipework.”
It added: “Ocean Quest’s crew were well prepared for the abandonment having routinely practised for such an emergency.
“The alarm was raised in good time and the subsequent rescue ensured everyone was safely transferred ashore.”
After the vessel’s loss, Mr Cowie, of Gardenstown, said the vessel was “like new” following repair works before praising his crew’s actions.
“Boats can be replaced, people can’t,” he said.
“I just thank everybody who tried to help and all the other guys who got us out.
“Everybody did a good job and I was very impressed.
“The scariest bit for me was getting winched up to the helicopter.”