Two items in the latest edition of Maritime New Zealand’s quarterly Lookout! safety publication caught MAC’s eye, one regarding an errant rocket in a wheelhouse and another about the estimates of lights at night.
The first story goes that a fishing vessel’s rescue boat capsized and lost some gear. The next day it went out to retrieve the lost gear but had an engine failure. To help out the boat it was decided to use a rocket-powered line-thrower, recently the two line-throwers aboard had been changed.
The ship’s cook went to the bow with the first line-thrower, which proceeded to fizzle out. He got the second one and took it to the wheelhouse where the skipper removed the safety seal. A moment later the unit activated unexpectedly and burned a hole through the cook’s leg, down to the bone. The skipper’s clothes were burned but he was otherwise uninjured.
No-one had been trained to use the unit, no-one was familiar with it. Why it fired is open to conjecture, however, rockets are explosive so examining them inside a enclosed area like a wheelhouse, instead of on deck, really isn’t a good idea.
In the second noted case, a skipper misjudged the distance of an anchor light which he thought were a second vessel’s deck lights, set off to join the second vessel and ran into it.
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