A report into the death of a man who fell overboard from a Belgian fishing vessel in Milford Haven after a night out drinking has led to a series of changes at the Port of Milford Haven.

The report by Belgium’s Federal Bureau for the Investigation of Maritime Accidents (Febima) was published earlier this year and shared by the UK Government.

The report said on Monday, November 11, 2019, five crewmembers of the Zilvermeeuw went ashore to visit a local pub, with two members of the crew continuing to drink until just before midnight.

“After spending some time ashore, a crewmember boarded the moored vessel at the forecastle, since the available access ladder was awkward to use and hindered by a chain, and fell into the water," the report said.

Adding: “The crewmember that had fallen into the water tried to swim towards the quayside ladder while the crewmember remaining on board rushed to the mess room and alarmed the other crewmembers.”

Western Telegraph: The Zilvermeeuw. Picture: FebimaThe Zilvermeeuw. Picture: Febima

Returning from the mess room they found the victim face down in the water, appearing unconscious.

The victim was grabbed by his clothing and pulled towards the quayside ladder, keeping his head above the water.

The crew had to winch the victim out, as they were not able to lift him out by hand.

After he was lifted out of the water, the victim was given CPR and the crew attempted to use a defibrillator but in their panic suffered difficulties.

The crewmember was taken to hospital where it was confirmed he had died.

A toxicology report found the crewmember had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol.

Febima's report said: “The post-mortem examination report identified the cause of death as drowning.

“The toxicology examination showed that the crewmember’s blood alcohol concentration was 269 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

“The autopsy report stated that such a concentration was sufficient to impair cognitive behaviour and motor function.”

The report described the quayside ladder as awkward to climb, even in ideal conditions, and said the crew had not properly assessed access to the vessel.

Western Telegraph: The previous ladder used at the port obstructed by chains. Picture: FebimaThe previous ladder used at the port obstructed by chains. Picture: Febima

In the report’s conclusion, it said: “No or little efforts had been made to make access to the vessel as safe as practically possible.

“Different access points were used depending on the tide and the distance between the vessel and the jetty.

“These access points could not be considered safe as access was hindered by chains, guardrails and fishing gear.”

Adding: “The consumption of alcohol when off-duty in port is a common phenomenon, but the tragic consequences of this accident demonstrate that drinking to excess significantly worsen the risk of life for crew that live onboard ships when in port.”

Several changes have been carried out at the Port of Milford Haven, the report said, including repairing and replacing existing ladders with a safer option and an increase in the number of quayside lifesaving appliances, including lifebuoys.

The report included recommendations including the roll-out of an action plan regarding alcohol and drug consumption.

The full report can be read here.