Aug 272009

imageRecent figures from a major P&I Club indicate that 14% of claims now occur as a result of mooring operations incidents says Marine Safety Forum in a recently issued safety alert. Elements in a recent incident involved a generic SJA, a chief officer who took a gamble and lost, and a lack of awareness of Stop Job principles that are well known in the offshore industry but, sadly, less used in the maritime sector.

The details from MSF are:

  • A seismic support vessel (SSV) was mooring alongside the mother vessel at sea whilst steaming at 4.5 kts.
  • The 4 crew were hauling onboard a headline by hand using a heaving line which was the normal procedure.
  • The mother vessel slacked too much line which resulted in the SSV crew transferring the heaving line to the windlass drum end as the mooring line was too heavy to haul in by hand
  • Initially 3 turns were placed on the drum end with the Chief Officer driving the windlass correctly placed inboard from the windlass controls.image
  • The rubber protective sleeve over the mooring rope eye became jammed on the ford rams horn of the set of bitts it was being heaved around
  • To clear it the Chief Officer instructed the man on the drum end to take 8-10 turns around the drum. The resulting increase in load on the heaving line caused it to part some 3 metres out board from the drum end. The resulting back lash struck the Chief Officer around his thigh causing a severe rope burn.Investigation of the incident showed that the SSV was using generic SJAs that were not fully appropriate to the job as they did not mention using the windlass/rope on the drum end during mooring operations, or mentioned ‘Stop The Job’ should anything out of the ordinary take place.Further more the Chief Officer took a calculated risk in ordering extra turns be taken on the drum end to free the jammed eye. He was fully aware of the recommendations of COSWP to only use three turns on a drum end.The heaving line was in nearly new condition.

Preventative Actions:
• Messenger line to be kept readily available on the focs’le should mooring ropes require heaving in on the windlass drum end.

• Crew to be given coaching in use of SJA’s and the principles of Stop the Job.


MAC has commented on generic safety documents before. Company bean counters like them because they’re cheaper than getting a proper job done. It is an attitude not conducive to safety culture ashore or onboard. Frankly, there’s no excuse for not having vessel, or at least type-specific SJAs. Getting a SJA written costs a lot less than an accident involving death or serious injury.

Every time you buy a generic SJA think to yourself “Is this cost saving worth someone’s life?”

A calculated risk must not be based on ‘maybe it’ll work’ but ‘is it safe?”. People get into command positions because they get the job done, it’s a cultural thing, put it down to testosterone if you must. It’s easy, when drawn into the moment, to truncate “get the job done safely” into “get the job done”. That’s when people get hurt, and, too often, dead.

Finally, Stop The Job needs to be imprinted in crew consciousness. Anybody has the right to stop a job when something changes that affects safety or something occurs that may increase risk. Anybody.

See also:

Mooring Injuries “Horrific”

Mooring Lines – Wear And Tear Causes Tears

Publication of Note: Understanding Mooring Line Incidents

Beware of Tow Rope Twangs and Nut Showers

The Poor Moor

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