Mar 282011
 

The fallen lifeboat: did design make it happen?

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.
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