Cruise Arrivals


Initial findings disclosed in diver’s death

The MAIB bulletin includes a map showing the location of the dive. (HMSO and UK Hydrographic Office)

Marine accident investigators have released their initial findings into a fatal incident, which occurred during a dive in Scapa Flow, last year.

The alarm was raised on Thursday, September 28, at around 11.10am after a diver was reported overdue from a vessel.

Police Scotland later confirmed that, on Monday, October 16, a body was discovered near Cava.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s (MAIB) probe into the death is ongoing, but today (June 27), a bulletin has been released, outlining its initial findings and safety recommendations.

The MAIB says that the recreational diver died “almost certainly as a result of being struck by the rotating propeller of the UK registered diving support boat Karin.”

The man had been diving from a second dive boat, which was also supporting divers exploring the wreck of the German battleship SMS Markgraf.

The diver and his dive buddy, the MAIB says, had ascended to their final scheduled decompression stop three metres below the surface.

The investigators say that the presence of the divers below the water was shown by their delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB), which, the report continues, was on the surface for 11 minutes before the accident.

The bulletin continues: “The DSMB was visible to the second dive boat waiting on the other side of the wreck site, but it was not sighted by Karin’s crew before Karin motored over it. 

“The crew of the second dive boat saw the DSMB disappear under Karin.

“Subsequently, one of the two divers failed to resurface. The coastguard was notified and an extensive two-day air and sea search of the area was conducted, but without success.

“The missing diver’s body was found three weeks later following a seabed search conducted by a local survey vessel using side-scan sonar. A specialist team recovered the diver’s body from the seabed.”

The key safety issues identified were:

  • The need to maintain an effective lookout at all times while a vessel is underway when operating near people in the water, such as around dive boats.
  • The need for detailed and frequent communication between operators when multiple boats intend to operate in the same area.
  • Following good practice guidance for correct handling of a DSMB by divers.

The full bulletin can be found on the MAIB website.