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Coroners Court of Queensland
Findings in Queensland trawler sinking inquest
By Admin
September 9, 2019

We have been following closely the inquest into the sinking of the FV Cassandra and the FV Dianne.

The recommendations below may benefit commercial fisherman, and it remains to be seen if they are implemented by AMSA. Interesting that these types of fishing vessels are listed as Low and Medium Risk by AMSA.

Coroners report here:

Coroner David O’Connell held inquest in Gladstone in March into sinking of FV Cassandra on April 4, 2016, and FV Dianne on October 16, 2017.

  • Matt Roberts, 61, and David Chivers, 36, died when FV Cassandra overturned off Fraser Island. Their bodies were never found.
  • FV Dianne rolled and sank off the Town of 1770 on October 16, 2017, killing Adam Hoffman, 30, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Zach Feeney, 28, Chris Sammut, 34, and Mr Leahy, 45.
  • Sole survivor, Ruben McDornan, forced a door open against rushing water and swam to surface.



Mr O’Connell says 18 commercial fishermen have died at sea off Queensland since 2004. Despite safety recommendations from a number of inquests, little has changed.

  • He found the Dianne’s crew fell victim to the capsize, the cause left as an opening finding.
  • The men aboard FV Cassandra drowned most likely after a net hooked on the seafloor and it turned over in wild seas.



  • Place emergency grab bags to help crew exit a capsized vessel near the helm and in the sleeping cabin.
  • Install self-illuminating LED strip lighting and emergency exit signs.
  • Secure bulky items in a wheelhouse so they can’t move in a capsize.
  • Crews wear inflatable style vests with personal locator beacons.
  • Find solutions to ensure doors can be opened against water pressure.
  • Review use of quad gear in the Sandy Straits area for trawling.
  • Ensure vessels include in their safety management systems a copy of the vessel’s original plans, any modifications and tests of modifications.
  • Safety management systems include safe methods for retrieving snagged net.
  • Fisheries department immediately implement a vessel monitoring system feature designed to send SMS or email to police if a ship fails to “poll” on system, which may indicate it has sunk.
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