Investigations into the failure of lifeboat falls during maintenance, which led to the death of a seafarer have identified the design of the vessel’s lifeboat davits as a possible contributor to the incident.
Two seafarers in a team greasing the vessel’s number seven lifeboat falls fell when the forward fall parted. One crewmember died, the other survived. Both had been wearing a safety harness attached to a safety line stretched between the forward and aft lifeboat lifting hook arrangements.
The hydraulic telescopic davits were manufactured by Italy’s Navalimpianti Tecnimpianti Group. The lifeboats were designed and manufactured by Schat Harding and were of the MPC 36 SV partially enclosed lifeboat design.
New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission interim report into the accident aboard the Holland-America Lines Volendam in January 2010 says: “The Commission believes it is a safety issue that the design of the SPTDL-150P lifeboat davit does not facilitate a thorough examination or effective lubrication of the standing part of the wire falls where they pass around the fixed guides before terminating. Lack of effective lubrication in this area will promote rapid corrosion and possible premature failure of the wire rope fall. Difficulty in conducting a thorough examination of the wire rope in this area could result in the risk of possible premature failure of the wire rope going undetected.
“The Commission believes it is a further safety issue that the design of the SPTDL-150P davit allows the outer ends of the fixed arm to flex towards the adjacent moving trolley beam when the load is taken by the wire falls. There is evidence that this flexing can cause the trolley beam structure to contact the wire guides, and possibly the wire falls, which could lead to excessive wear and premature failure of the wire rope”.
As a matter of urgency the TAIC has recommended that the Navalimpianti Tecnimpianti Group, the shipbuilder, alert all owners of vessels fitted with the SPTDL-150P stored-power telescopic lifeboat davits of the circumstances of this accident and issue instructions on what immediate inspections and
maintenance should be carried out to prevent a failure of wire rope falls for the same or similar reasons.
Similarly, as a matter of urgency, TAIC recommends that Navalimpianti Tecnimpianti Group make a technical assessment of other lifeboat davit models it has produced to identify if similar safety issues exist with those models, and if so, alert owners of those davits and issue them with instructions on what immediate inspections and maintenance should be carried out to prevent a failure of wire rope falls for the same or similar reasons.
A third recommendation, also considered a matter of urgency It is recommended that as a matter of urgency that the Navalimpianti Tecnimpianti Group review the design of the SPTDL-150P lifeboat davit system with a view to remedying the tendency in this case for the fixed davit arm to flex inwards under load and contact moving parts of the structure, which could lead to premature failure of components within the system.