We’ve been concentrating on enclosed/confined space entry this month, here’s the fifth in the series:
The Case Of The One Way Assassin
New Podcast: The Case Of The Rusty Assassin
The Viking Islay Tragedy
Three men lay dead in the anchor locker.
What they’d need to stay alive was everywhere around them
except in the one place it could have saved them:
The air they breathed
Maritime Safety News Today – 29th May 2008 is now online at the News @ Mail section, click here.
Two communications arrived in MAC’s inbox over the past couple of days with bad news for the families of four now-dead stowaways.
Two bodies were found in a hold aboard the bulk carrier Pascal in Ayr, Scotland. The two men apparently boarded the vessel in Tunisia and hunkered down in a phosphate filled hold with a single bottle of water between them on or around 15th May before the hatches were sealed. Their bodies were discovered on 26th May, eleven days later.
On the day that story broke, Denmark’s Maritime Authority, DMA issued its report on the August 2007 deaths of two stowaways aboard the Danish coaster Danica Brown.
We’ll be covering the MAIB’s 56 page and two annexe MSC Napoli report in more depth anon but a footnote got our immediate attention:
“It was evident during the investigation that the master had placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of safety drills and the maintenance of lifesaving equipment, and that the preparation and lowering of lifeboats had been well-practiced in accordance with company policy.”
No-one was hurt during the evacuation from the ship, and that may be owed to the seriousness with which the master took safety procedures and drills.
The abandon ship did not go without a hitch, “the crewman sitting nearest the forward painter release could not pull the release pin sufficiently far to allow the painter to disengage. He was squeezed between two other crew and his movement was restricted by his immersion suit. The painter was eventually cut by the chief engineer, who had a knife, and was able to reach the painter via the lifeboat’s forward hatch.”
Conditions in the lifeboat were far from easy: “The motion of the lifeboat was violent and the atmosphere in the lifeboat was very uncomfortable; all of the crew suffered from sea sickness. Although the lifeboat was certified to accommodate up to 32 persons, the 26 crew wearing immersion suits and lifejackets were very cramped. They were very warm and several felt faint and de-hydrated. The situation became more tolerable after the crew cut off the gloves from their immersion suits with the chief engineer’s knife. This allowed them to use their hands more effectively, and they were able to drink from plastic drinking water bottles they had brought with them.”
Says the MAIB report: “The abandonment of a vessel in any conditions is problematic. Therefore, the abandonment and successful recovery of the 26 crew from MSC Napoli, in the severe conditions experienced, is praiseworthy. By the time the master arrived at the lifeboat embarkation position, the crew were on board and wearing immersion suits and lifejackets, the engine was running, extra water had been stowed on board, and VHF radios, SARTs and the EPIRB were ready for use. Despite the vessel rolling heavily the enclosed lifeboat was lowered without incident and then manoeuvred clear of the stricken vessel. Although there were a number of practical issues that should be noted, this successful abandonment clearly demonstrates the importance and value of regular maintenance and drills.”
Sadly, drills are often carried out for the sake of filling in bits of paper, and sometimes not at all, but drills are a pretty good insurance policy.
I’ve never known seafarers to adverse to beavers so the picture below may be helpful in making a point about experience versus safety.
Simply follow these steps:
1. Print out picture
2. Put picture in wallet.
3. Wait for someone to say “I’ve been doing this job all my life, don’t tell me how to do it safely”
4. Give picture to speaker
5. Run away