Poor manuals, signage, certification anomalies and ‘problematic’ onload release hooks have been highlighted by Germany’s BSU in its report on an incident aboard the containership MSC Grace in which a lifeboat manufacturer by a now-defunct company fell from its hooks onto a chief officer and injured him and caused damage to the lifeboat davits.
In a earlier incident involving the same type of lifeboat aboard MSC India in the Baltic, one seafarer was killed and two severely injured. Panama is currently investigating that incident.
BSU’s summary of the MSC Grace incident says:
Investigation showed that the lifeboats had been certified by Lloyds Register in 1991, that the manufacturer, Schiffwerft Rechlin, was no longer trading and there was no licensed company in existence to provide maintenance or servicing with original parts.
The starboard lifeboat had no description of the on-load release hook elements or how the hooks should be released or secured. Crew onboard had to draw schematics of the release process, using symbols that were not SOLAS compliant.
Schiffwerft Rechlin’s manual for the lifeboat lacked information on the interaction between the fore and aft hooks, few warnings, and no illustrations showing how to use the hooks and the release.
A remote control cable was found to be just a few strands away from parting.
Inspectors looked at the replacement port lifeboat There was inconsistent labelling on manufacturer-provided notices inside the lifeboats: “push rod”and “pull rod” were used for the same safety-critical piece of equipment. There a reference to a mark on the hooks which would indicate the status of the setting but this had been painted over by crew.
There were also shortfalls in certification: The last service of the lifeboat, by Aqua Safety Equipment BV of Antwerp. was recorded on 25 January 2007. Only one of the two test certificates was dated, for 3 May. The 5-year certificate test for the starboard lifeboat had a test date of 3 May 2007 with a test list dated 28 March 2007. None of the test lists had the corresponding lifeboat serial number and both 5-year certificates showed the same lifeboat serial number – 006/91.
Since 2006, BSU has investigated, or been notified of, four incidents involving lifeboats: MSC Grace, MSC India (One fatality, two severe injuries), MT Oliver Jacob (Two fatalities) and MV Forest-1 (Two fatalities).
Says MAC: Shoddy, poorly documented lifeboats are an example of the gap between safety and compliance. Such boats are on board only to comply with mandatory requirements. They are not there for the benefit of the crew.
BSU Lifeboat Accident Reports