The UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch has published its report into an incident aboard the Dublin Viking last year in which a stern line parted and snapped back, leading to the death of the second officer.
A full report can be downloaded here.
“On 7 August 2007, the ro-ro passenger ferry Dublin Viking was preparing to leave her usual berth for a scheduled sailing from Dublin. Wind and tidal conditions were benign, but in the process of letting go the stern line, the operator of the stern line winch heaved in the line instead of paying out slack. The stern line parted with a loud crack and snapped back, striking the second officer’s legs. Both his legs were broken and the left leg was almost severed. The recoil of the line also dislocated a shore worker’s shoulder and elbow.
The vessel’s first-aid team and off duty master quickly arrived to treat the second officer. His injuries were severe and it was difficult to control the bleeding. The second officer was evacuated to hospital, where his left leg had to be amputated. He remained in a critical condition and died 6 days later.
The second officer, in charge of the after mooring deck, was obliged to stand in ‘snap-back’ zones near the fairleads, so that he could relay orders to line handlers ashore and deck crew. Analysis of the mooring line after the accident showed that it had deteriorated, its breaking load having reduced from 60 to 35 tonnes, largely due to exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. Although the vessel’s mooring ropes were required to be inspected, the onboard procedures were informal and no records were kept.
The winch operator was attempting to control two winches at the same time, one heaving up the stern ramp and the other veering the stern line. The operator had controlled the winches before, and knew that the controls of the mooring winch operated in the opposite sense; however he was distracted and pushed the stern winch control away from him when intending to veer the rope. This caused the winch to heave in. Tests showed that the electric mooring winch was capable of pulling a far greater load than its stated output for a very short period when it first started to turn. This was sufficient to part the mooring line.
Following the accident, the vessel’s management company has implemented a number of measures designed to prevent a re-occurrence, and the winch manufacturer has undertaken to mark all new mooring winches with their maximum, as well as nominal, rated loads and also to provide more detailed technical information in its manuals.
Recommendations have been made regarding: the technical information supplied with winches; the need to consider the implications of any shore supplied moorings on the mooring structure as a whole; and the dissemination of a “flyer” that the MAIB has published, drawing attention to the lessons learned from this accident.”
The flyer can be downloaded here. It makes the following points:
• The risks in conducting mooring operations must be rigorously assessed and safe working practices developed. Every vessel should have a set of guidelines for achieving a safe mooring which can be modified to suit operational or environmental circumstances.
• Man-made fibre mooring ropes deteriorate in service and can have serious consequences if they part. Operators should develop a Rope Management System to provide a formal inspection routine of all mooring lines, and include as a minimum:
• Assigning competent people, with adequate training and experience to assess the condition of ropes.
• A process of permanently identifying each rope, describing its function, specification and linking it to its warranty certificate.
• Keeping records of planned inspections of each rope, including: date of manufacture and putting into service; condition; exposure to sunlight (or other contaminants) and any unusual loads to which it has been subjected, etc.
• Establishing objective criteria for rope replacement and a specification for new ropes.
• A storage routine in which all ropes are protected from damage and kept away from potential contaminants.
• Assess mooring arrangements as a system; consider the suitability of each element and the compatibility of individual components, particularly ship and shore supplied lines.
• Ensure that the full capabilities of mooring winches are known and understood by all those involved in conducting and managing mooring operations, including the Minimum Breaking Load of ropes to be used.
• Detailed information and guidance on mooring operations and rope inspection is available in publications produced by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), the Nautical Institute and the Cordage Institute.