Serious mooring injury prompts UK P&I Club warning

Mooring in port. Credit: MALUSHKO, IGOR

The UK P&I Club has released vital mooring safety lessons following the serious injury of a crew member on a bulk carrier.

The vessel was discharging cargo alongside a mineral terminal when the terminal requested that the master shift the ship about 100 m astern. The manoeuvre was to be executed using only the mooring lines, which were to be transferred from bollard to bollard by the shore linesmen.

The master became concerned that the vessel was making excessive sternway during the shifting operation and ordered the forward and aft mooring parties to check the movement using the forward headlines and the aft back spring rope.

On the poop deck, an able seaman tightened up the back spring winch brake and as the strain came on the rope, it parted with one end of the rope snapping back, violently striking the second officer. The injured seafarer suffered broken ribs and serious internal injuries.

In its statement on the incident, the UK P&I Club emphasised that mooring operations should be properly risk assessed and planned to ensure all crew are aware of how the operation is to be conducted, as well as to the potential hazards and safety precautions.

In addition, the insurer recommended that mooring machinery and ropes are maintained and frequently checked in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Over-tightening winch brakes, it said, may break the mooring rope easily.

The UK P&I Club also urged vessel operators to be aware that the whole mooring deck is a potential snap-back zone during operations and to always keep clear of mooring ropes when under tension.

“A synthetic fibre rope will stretch under tension and if it parts when under load, the sudden release of stored energy will cause it to snap back with great velocity, risking death or injury to persons who are in its way,” explained David Nichol, senior loss prevention executive at the UK P&I Club.

“This accident was the result of a loss of control during the shifting manoeuvre. The effect of a strong ebb tide on the vessel was not properly considered and there was a failure to make use of the main engine until after control had been lost.”