Able Seaman Chin-Fu Huang on the Ever Elite died after falling from an accommodation ladder in uncontrolled descent in San Francisco Bay. His death was not merely the result of a failure of a key component in the accommodation ladder’s lifting mechanism but of systemic failures in the vessel’s safety system. We’ll cover the lessons of this tragedy in reverse chronological order, based on the report by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
This was the third occupational health and safety related fatality on board EMU’s eleven UK registered vessels within an 8 month period.
AB Huang was spotted about half a metre below the surface by the crew of a tug, Z5, between 10 and 15 minutes after entering the water. He was recovered on board the pilot boat Golden Gate but there were no signs of life.
He was not wearing a lifejacket. Although he had suffered blunt force trauma during his fall and may have been unconscious due to a blow or cold-shock, an appropriate lifejacket would have held his face above water preventing him from drowning.