Jul 272009

image Within a couple of days of each other MAC received the German Bundesstelle für Seeunfalluntersuchung, Federal Bureau of Maritime Investigation, report on the death of a second officer aboard the containership Northern Faith at Koper, Slovenia, as it came under the influence of a storm and a booklet from Steamship Mutual on the care and maintenance of mooring lines.

Injuries from mooring lines are often horrific and commonly fatal. The second officer on Northern Faith was injured so badly that his right arm had to amputated, yet he was standing in what was widely regarded as a safe place.

Mooring winches are built so that the line will come free of the drum at a load below that of the breaking strain of the line. There is a wide assumption that the line will come free with one turn on the drum, about a metre, so if you’re that distance away you should be safe. In the Northern Faith case the line could have come off the drum at three turns and struck the second officer with enough force to send him several metres and badly injure him in the process.


One option is the provision of safety cages like the one pictured here, which are cheap and effective.

At the same time, hazards are significantly reduced by appropriate care, maintenance and judicious replacement of mooring lines and the correct mix of lines.

Finally, the reason why so much pressure was put on the line is that the ship’s officers were not aware of a strong incoming storm. Maintenance started in the engine room, which meant that bow thrusters and engine were not available when the bad weather hit.

Why the ship’s officers were unaware of the incoming weather is unclear but it seems fairly self-evident that before carrying out maintenance that might limit the ability to use engine or thrusters it’s worth taking a look at the weather report.

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