Nov 232014

One seafarer died and two were injured on Friday, 21 November in an incident involving what appears to have been  a fast rescue   craft. It is the fourth lifeboat/FRC fatality in the past two months.

Details of the incident remain sketchy. German-language newspaper Spiegel says that the boat fell 11 metres, 30 feet, into the water from the chemical tanker MTM Westport resulting in the death of a 57 year old seafarer and injuries to two others who were thrown out of the boat on impact. The Hong-Kong-flagged vessel with officers and crew from Myanmar, Ukraine and Russia,  was at anchor in the North Sea off the Elbe estuary.

In May 2014 MTM Westport was detained in Argentine due to nine deficiencies, none involving lifeboat or FRC equipment.


Jan 252013
Position of the FRC

Position of the FRC

It seems to MAC that two questions to be asked before a risk assessment could save lives: Is it really necessary to carry out this task right now? Is this equipment being used for its designed purpose? Consider the crushing of a bosun causing fatal internal injuries whilst painting the hull of the  the Liberian registered platform supply ship ER Athina, subject of a new investigation report from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

A small patch of damaged paintwork on the hull needed touching-up. despite the cosmetic nature of the intended work and the safer option of completing the paintwork repair in the sheltered waters of an alongside berth, the master’s decision to proceed with the painting was never challenged.

Since there was to be a fast rescue craft drill it was decided to carry out both tasks at the same time, the two tasks were not separately assessed.

The chief officer led a toolbox talk on the deck adjacent to the port FRC. The talk was attended by the deck cadet, Pjero, and the
OS. The points covered in the talk followed the ship manager’s risk assessment for the launch and recovery of the FRC, and it included the possible hazards and the associated control methods during the various phases of the drill. The risks of painting the port quarter were not formally assessed and, although the task was mentioned in the toolbox talk, it was not covered in any detail. Continue reading »

Dec 282012
A very slight hissing noise was heard after unplugging the battery power cable indicating that the air bottle had been activated.

A very slight hissing noise was heard after unplugging the battery power cable indicating that the air bottle had been activated.

Flotation righting bags are an essential safety component of Fast Rescue Craft, FRC. The experience of a Marine Safety Forum, MSF, member described in a recent safety alert suggests that it might be a good idea to check the air cylindre and its connections.

Says MSF: “The fast rescue craft on an anchor handler was being prepared for an MOB drill with the rig. A crew member was attempting to gain safe access to the FRC to unplug the battery power charge by holding onto the A frame. In doing so, he had inadvertently disturbed an exposed section of the activation cable for the
floatation righting bag.

The exposed cable for the righting bag exited the protective tubing on the A frame and connects to the trigger mechanism of the air bottle.

A very slight hissing noise was heard after unplugging the battery power cable indicating that the air bottle had been activated. Closer inspection revealed that the activation cable could be wriggled to stop the flow of air.

Since air had been partly discharged, it was decided to pull the cable and activate the righting bag fully.

FRC Make and Model: MARE GTC 700 Rigid Fast Rescue Craft.

The exposed section of activation cable exiting the protective tubing and leading to trigger mechanism was accidently disturbed when crew member was gaining safe access by holding onto the A-frame resulting in
partial activation of the trigger mechanism
Continue reading »

Jul 192012


An overstressed fall wire caused the fall of  the fast rescue boat on board the UK registered car carrier, Tombarra, which then plummeted some 29m from its davit into the water below, killing one of the rescue boat’s four crew says the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB. Among the causes was a non-working proximity switch and concern is raised about an overweight fast rescue boat.

The MAIB investigation has identified a number of factors that contributed to the accident, including:

Continue reading »

Apr 172012

One Filipino seafarer was killed and a Danish officer seriously injured in the incident in Kobe, Japan when boat falls allegedly failed.

Denmark’s Maritime Authority, DMA, has issued guidelines for abandon ship and fire drills following a fatality aboard the containership Anna Maersk on 27 March. One Filipino seafarer was killed and a Danish officer seriously injured in the incident in Kobe, Japan when boat falls allegedly failed.

Fatalities and injuries during lifeboat drills are disturbingly common but in recent years there have been a number of reports involving fast rescue craft. DMA says: “In recent years, the shipping industry has experienced an unacceptable number of serious accidents during abandon ship drills and fire drills”.

Continue reading »

Nov 082011

Early painter released capsized rescue boat

Step Change in Safety warns that a recent incident has highlighted a potential deficiency in a rescue boat painter release mechanism. During a routine launch of the rescue boat whilst at sea, the painter released early causing the towing forces normally absorbed by the painter to shift onto the fall wire once the boat was waterborne. This resulted in the rescue boat capsizing.

It is possible that the early release of the painter was due to a failure in the painter release mechanism.

A full investigation into the incident is underway and the findings will be published once complete.

The company concerned has instructed its vessel to immediately:
1. Check the painter release mechanisms on their rescue boats. Once the mechanism is released either manually or by pulling on the release wire the locking lever must spring back into the locked position. Continue reading »

Jul 262011

A fail safe interlock device should have prevented the drop

Incorrect electrical installation of a ‘fail-safe’ interlock and early activation of a wave compensator led to a fast rescue craft being dropped 18 metres while being deployed in an emergency, says Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau. The chief engineer, who was being medically evacuated, second mate and fourth engineer were injured in the incident on board the Isle of Man registered liquefied natural gas tanker British Sapphire.

ATSB says that that, in the process of lowering the rescue boat, the wave compensator mechanism on the fast rescue boat’s davit was activated early, before the rescue boat had reached the water. A fail safe interlock device should have prevented this by placing the wave compensator into standby mode, only becoming operational when the fast rescue boat was waterborne. However, the electrical installation of the interlock was incorrect and meant it could not work as designed, allowing the wave compensation unit to always operate and the fast rescue boat to make the uncontrolled descent to the sea.

The investigation identified safety issues relating to the commissioning, maintenance, testing, operating instructions and procedures for the fast rescue boat’s wave compensator and its safety interlock system. Further safety issues were identified relating to the job hazard analysis for the use of the fast rescue boat, crew resource management principles and approved training courses for fast rescue boats.

Tests were carried out on board the three sister ships, British Sapphire, British Emerald and British Ruby. with the wave compensator not working correctly on any of them. However, a crucial discovery was made when the engineers on board one of the ships noticed that the electrical drawings had been altered in red pen. As a result of this finding, BP Shipping asked Davit International to supply a set of ‘original’ electrical drawings. These drawings were then forwarded to the ships for further checking.

Continue reading »

May 272011

As investigations continue into the Tombarra tragedy in a malfunction of a proximity switch, resulting in failure of a fall wire with loss life, important lessons are emerging.  An MAIB Safety Bulletin identifies some the problems with the proximity switch.   The bulletin recommends that owners and operators of vessels equipped with boat davits should: •     In the case of vessels fitted with the Schat-Harding SA 1.5 and SA 1.75 davits, follow the advice contained in the PAN recently issued by the manufacturer or urgently contact Schat Harding1 if a PAN has not been received. •     Ensure that all devices (inductive or mechanical) fitted to boat davit systems to prevent overload are tested on each occasion before a boat is hoisted and that such devices are not relied upon during operation. •     Follow manufacturers’ recommendations regarding the maintenance and periodic testing, examination and replacement of safety devices, seeking clarification from manufacturers where ambiguity exists. •     Verify the effectiveness of watertight seals on electrical equipment fitted to boat davit systems on weatherdecks. Continue reading »