Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Loss of the Morgenster Z85 - report from EMMANUELLE DUPEUX et SYLVAIN DELAGE

Wednesday afternoon, the Belgian trawler "Z85 Morgenster" disappeared from radar screens while fishing in British waters

(Translated by Google Translate)

Thursday morning, a liferaft ran aground on Équihen-Plage. It was empty. A few hours later, two bodies were recovered off Boulogne. According to preliminary evidence gathered, the sinking was particularly sudden. 

1. The disappearance Wednesday afternoon, the Z85 Morgenster, a Belgian trawler 24 meters, slowly steaming north in the English Channel with its trawls in the water. On board, everything seemed to run smoothly for the four crewmen. Then the ship suddenly disappeared from radar screens. The last position automatically sent AIS back to 14 h 47 (French time). The boat was then in British waters to 20 miles from Dungeness (between Dover and Hastings) and 40 km off Boulogne. 

2. Research Since no warning signal was issued by the trawler, the disappearance was not reported immediately. "These were colleagues who raised the alarm when they realized she didn't respond" said Michel Goron, Director of the CROSS Gris Nez. Calls made by its English counterpart, the MRCC Dover, were unsuccessful. Shortly before 1800 hours, SAR resources were therefore triggered to try to locate the ship. France has deployed including Dauphin helicopter of the Navy based in Le Touquet. By late afternoon, the searches were fruitless. Liferaft Belgian trawler was found stranded in the rocks of the beach Equihen. 

3. A first clue This Thursday, at 10 am, the life raft of Z85 Morgenster was found Équihen-Plage, grounded on rocks. Alerted, firefighters found that the boat was empty and, according to the position of the straps, it was not even used. This was probably triggered automatically on contact with water. This discovery left little doubt about the tragic outcome for the crew, the survival time of a man overboard is thirty minutes in water at 9 degrees. It also implied that the sinking was very fast. 

4. Two bodies discovered In the morning, a 50 French Navy Falcon has reinforced the Dauphin to fly over the area. They were first spotted debris off Boulogne. Then a first body in the early afternoon at 16 km from the coast. And a second to 18 hours in the same area. The lifeboat canoe Boulogne recovered the bodies. Dutch fishermen docked in Boulogne have identified the two victims on pictures in the evening. (photo Marc Ottini) 


Hard to say as the wreckage was not found. But every indication that the sinking was particularly sudden: the crew had not issued any warning signal or distress message, they had no time to board the liferaft and, According to our information, at least one of the two bodies found yesterday was not wearing a life jacket. 

According to the site, which can follow live the tracks of ships (see below), the Z85 Morgenster was sailing at 2.6 knots, which suggests he was fishing. three hypotheses In this context, the most likely explanation is that the boat had "come fast" on the on the bottom with trawls. "It is a well known risk of fishermen, says Michel Goron, the CROSS. The trawl catches on a stone or a wreck, which creates a huge weight on the rear of the ship and the water rushes quickly. Especially at the time of sorting the fish, all holds are open. "The sea, which was quite rough on Wednesday at noon, could engulf the boat in seconds. 

Unfortunately another common assumption: the fire on board. "But generally, the crew has a little more time to send an alert," said the specialist. That was not the case. 

We also know that the trawler was traveling in the opposite direction in the separation zone down the strait, which is tolerated for boat fishing. 

Would a collision occurred with another ship? 

Track a priori excluded: according to initial analyzes, no boat traveling near the time of the tragedy. 


On the Internet, the VesselTracker website can follow live the routes of ships around the world, especially in the English Channel and the North Sea. The geolocation is done using the AIS system, to which all vessels are connected. The MZ85 Morgenster was no exception to the rule. 

AIS history taken from the website

1. The context of the disappearance. The last position sent by the AIS MZ85 Morgenster date Wednesday at 2:47 p.m. (French time). The trawler was then 40 km west of Boulogne and 20 km from the nearest coast, the Dungeness (between Dover and Hastings). He was changing in the opposite in the seperation scheme/track down the Channel (obligatory passage for ships transiting the North Sea to the English Channel). He moved to 2.6 knots, which suggests that he was still fishing. 

2. course. The history of the trawler of the course reveals that the MZ85 Morgenster was moving from South to North. About 2 am 50, it was south of Eastbourne. He trawled in this area until 8 hours before slowly back towards the Strait. 

3. A final manouvre. Just prior to issue for the last time to 13 h 55, the MZ85 Morgenster began a low-speed loop. A specialist believes that this final maneuver means it has raised its trawl. The vessel then continued its fishing, continuing its original path. Before disappearing screens, a few minutes later. SY. D.

Source: Courtesy of Voix du Nord