Two fatalities after Finnish vessel capsizes

Overturned Finnpilot Pilotage vessel Coast Guard divers prepare to right the vessel. Image courtesy of Finnish Border Guard

Two maritime pilots have died after a Finnpilot Pilotage vessel capsized and sank near Emäsalo island in Finland.

The pilot cutter operators, who were Finnpilot employees, were onboard pilot vessel L242 on 10 December when it overturned outside of Emäsalo island near the northern pilot boarding position. However, despite the Finnish Border Guard’s efforts to right the vessel, it sank during the operation.

Kari Kosonen, CEO at maritime safety organisation Finnpilot, said: “This is a truly devastating day for Finnpilot. We are working with the authorities to determine the causes of this tragic accident in order to ensure the safety of our employees in the future. Procedures to that end are already underway.”

Salvage plans

The pilot cutter operators had been on their way to retrieve a pilot from an assignment.

Divers were able to recover the bodies of the pilot cutter operators from the sunken 15.4m long Kewatec Pilot 1500 vessel, but the cause of the vessel capsizing is unknown at this point.

Together, Finnpilot and the Safety Investigation Authority (OTKES) are making plans to salvage the sunken pilot vessel within the next two weeks, weather permitting.

OTKES guidance

The operation will take place under the authority and guidance of OTKES. Environmental safety during the salvage will be overseen by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

“The raising of the vessel under the current weather conditions and from such a depth is challenging and we will take no risks,” says Aki Marjasvaara, transport director at Finnpilot.

A preliminary report of the events has been drafted at Emäsalo pilot station. OTKES will handle any inquiries regarding the accident investigation and related matters.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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