Police in the New Zealand port of Lyttelton, Christchurch says that neither of the crewmen aboard the Holland-America Lines Volendam were wearing a lifejacket when one end of the lifeboat they were working on fell suddenly, dropping them into the water. One of the men, an Indonesian, drowned, the other managed to remain afloat using a bucket.
MAC has been unable to confirm reports that a fall wire snapped. No fall preventer appears to have been fitted.
Early reports referred to the incident occurring during a lifeboat drill but later reports say that it happened during maintenance.
A Holland-America statement says: “Boat drills and fire drills for crew and boat drills for passengers take place weekly. Passenger boat drills — at which attendance is taken and life jackets are worn — take place in most ports of embarkation before departure and never later than 24 hours after departing the port of embarkation”.
A preliminary report from the MAC Lifeboat Safety survey suggests that lifeboat incidents during maintenance are the third highest. A Holland-America Lines safety and security briefing says: “…all crewmembers receive extensive instruction in emergency disembarkation procedures, lifeboat and life raft handling. Courses are given on board all ships for the lifeboat handler certificate. This training includes emergency disembarkation procedures, boat and raft handling, complete knowledge of lifeboat and life raft inventory, and survival at sea measures. SOLAS and the U.S. Coast Guard recognize this certification. The theoretical and practical exams are conducted on board in the English language by inspectors from the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate. Crewmembers who pass the exams are fully licensed to be lifeboat commanders. All crewmembers also are required to view safety instruction videos on an ongoing basis”.