The tragic sinking of the Outer Hebridean fishing boat Louisa – in which three men lost their lives – will now spark an inquiry into the improvement of safety standards across the world.
In a move welcomed by the sole survivor of the tragedy, the international authority on maritime safety has been asked to review the way life jackets are tested.
The three men who died after the Louisa sank two years ago were found floating face down – even though they were wearing life jackets which were supposed to keep their faces out of the water.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) conducted extensive tests and found that even approved life jackets were failing to perform adequately.
Now the MAIB has written to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – the global authority for safety at sea – and asked it to review the standards of the flotation devices being used internationally.
Lachlann Armstrong, a father-of-one from Stornoway who survived the sinking, said: “It’s a shame that such a tragedy has had to occur to bring to light the flaws in life jackets.
“I think a review is absolutely necessary. I would personally feel honoured that the brothers lost at sea did not die completely in vain. Their deaths will have been a catalyst to change safety measures which could potentially save countless lives in the future.”
The Lousia sank in the early hours of April 9, 2016, whilst laying at anchor just off Mingulay in the Western Isles.
Skipper Paul Alliston, 42, from Lewis, and his crew of 27-year-old Chris Morrison from Harris and 29-year-old Martin Johnstone from Halkirk in Caithness had all donned life jackets but drowned at the scene.
An MAIB report into the causes of the sinking concluded that if the vests had worked properly, the crew would have been facing up to avoid taking water in.
In a letter to SNP MP Angus McNeil, the MAIB has written that the European Commission will submit a paper to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee’s 100th session in December “which will call for a review and revision of the international life jacket standards.”