maritime safety news  Comments Off on IMPORTANT MAC UPDATES
Jun 102008

We’re experimenting with MAC for Mobiles
which will enable you access this site using a mobile device, ie., a cellphone. The URL is the same:, our server should know you’re on mobile and deliver accordingly.

We’ve made it easier to share your MAC materials with ours. At the bottom of each post or page you’ll see the ShareThis icon, click it and you’ll have the option to bookmark, post to a blog or send by email.

Finally, if you’re using MAC materials for training or education we’d like to hear from you. We’re happy you’re using them and we’d like to know who you are and what you think to help us develop MAC into an even more useful resource for you. Use our Contact form under the About tab or email us at mac at

 Posted by at 14:23

Website of Note: Tetley’s Maritime and Admiralty Law

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Website of Note: Tetley’s Maritime and Admiralty Law
Apr 252008

Professor William Tetley, Faculty of Law

Professor William Tetley of Canada’s McGill University’s Faculty of Law has an often tongue in cheek site (How to Become a Maritime Lawyer Without Even Trying) and insight into some major cases like the Prestige from a maritime law perspective.

If, like me, you delight in trivia and oddities try this : “If goods on board a ship shall be damaged by rats, and there be no cat in the ship, the managing owner is bound to make compensation. But if the ship has had cats on board in the place where she was loaded, and after she has sailed away the said cats have died, and the rats have damaged the goods, if the managing owner of the ship shall buy cats and put them on board as soon as they arrive at a place where they can find them, he is not bound to make good the said losses, for they have not happened through his default.” Its part of an article  titled “If a ship is lost to a peril of the sea, How Can You Say She Was Seaworthy?” by John Weale, which you’ll find at the Tetley website.

Maritime Safety News Today – 11th April 2008

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 11th April 2008
Apr 112008

Man dies after falling overboard
BBC News, UK – 8 hours ago
The man was working as an engineer on Baltic Sky 1, a combined chemical and oil tanker, anchored off Felixstowe. The crew reported the man missing on

Posted 04/10/08 at 10:38 AM
A 388-ft. Netherlands-flagged freighter ran aground in East Passage off Portsmouth, RI reports said. The Coast Guard received a call that the freighter Alexandergracht was stuck on the Portsmouth side of the passage, near the Melville Marine District, and needed assistance…

Captain praised after grounding
BBC News – UK
When the vessel reached the southern part of the box, the watchkeeper is reported to have dialled a new course into the automatic helm with the intention of

Ferry captain fired after Spirit of BC comes too close to another
CHEK News – Victoria,BC,Canada
This violated BC Ferries operating procedures that forbid passing another vessel at the narrow entrance to Active Pass because of concern about a collision.

DFO changes towing practice
Globe and Mail – Canada
“The coast guard suspended its practice of towing small vessels in ice with crew aboard the disabled vessel while the internal safety review is under way,”

IMO Backing Antarctic Ship Review

The IMO’s environment committee recognized campaigners’ fears that the continent’s waters are at risk from the rising number of ships coming to the area. Environmentalists said the sinking of the M/S Explorer in 2007 was a wake-up call to tighten rules in the region.

Riverdance ferry move to be decided
Blackpool Citizen – UK
Plans to refloat the ship have continually failed due to bad weather, and the Riverdance now lies completely on its side, and is sinking into the sand.

Companies wait for Sabrina cargo to be released – Toronto,Ontario,Canada
MSC is waiting on an insurance claim it filed to recoup rescue costs accrued in the grounding last month, and while that request is processed companies such

Anti-piracy body calls for security boost after French ship seized
Macau Daily Times – Macau
The International Maritime Bureau’s Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Centre said it was possible the culprits were the same gang responsible for a spate of

Stranded Seamen Claim $102,000 in Unpaid Wages

Stranded onboard the M/V Lady Belinda since January, the crew is finally paid.

INTERTANKO welcomes IMO’s revisions to MARPOL Annex VI

INTERTANKO welcomes package and expresses satisfaction that goals set by INTERTANKO’s Council have been fully achieved

Growing seafarer shortage highlighted at Sea Japan
Seatradeasia-online (subscription) – London,UK
and the negative image of shipping, had served to discourage seafarers “other than from countries where the attraction is strictly financial,” he said.

 Posted by at 08:41
Mar 292008

No single cause led to the capsize of the AHTS Bourbon Dolphin with the loss of eight lives, with seven survivors, on April 12, 2007 says a report into the sinking released by Norway’s Justice Ministry, but Bourbon Offshore, which owned the vessel has been criticised for inadequately checking the vessel’s stability following an earlier incident and for not ensuring that the captain, Oddne Remøy, was sufficiently familiar with the vessel sand its crew before undertaking the operation that led to the capsize.

Key conclusions are:
• The vessel was built and equipped as an all-round vessel AHSV (Anchor Handling Supply Vessel). Uniting these functions poses special challenges. In addition to bollard pull, anchor-handling demands thruster capacity, powerful winches, big drums and equipment for handling chain. Supply and cargo operations demand the biggest possible, and also flexible, cargo capacities both on deck and in tanks. The “Bourbon Dolphin” was a
relatively small and compact vessel, in which all these requirements were to
be united.

• The company had no previous experience with the A 102 design and ought therefore to have undertaken more critical assessments of the vessel’s characteristics, equipment and not least operational limitations, both during her construction and during her subsequent operations under various conditions. The company did not pick up on the fact that the vessel had experienced an unexpected stability-critical incident about two months after

• The vessel’s stability-related challenges were not clearly communicated from shipyard to company and onwards to those who were to operate the vessel.

• Under given load conditions the vessel did not have sufficient stability to handle lateral forces. The winch’s pulling-power was over-dimensioned in relation to what the vessel could in reality withstand as regards stability.

• The anchor-handling conditions prepared by the shipyard were not realistic. Nor did the Norwegian Maritime Directorate’s regulatory system make any requirement that these be approved.

• The ISM Code demands procedures for the key operations that the vessel is to perform, Despite the fact that anchor-handling was the vessel’s main function, there was no vessel-specific anchor-handling procedure for the “Bourbon Dolphin”.

• The company did not follow the ISM code’s requirement that all risk be identified.

• The company did not make sufficient requirements for the crew’s qualifications for demanding operations. The crew’s lack of experience was not compensated for by the addition of experienced personnel.

• The master was given 1½ hours to familiarise himself with the crew and vessel and the ongoing operation. In its safety management system the company has a requirement that new crews shall be familiarised with (inducted into) the vessel before they can take up their duties on board. In practice the master familiarises himself by overlapping with another master who knows the vessel, before he himself is given the command.

• Neither the company nor the operator ensured that sufficient time was made available for hand-over in the crew change.

• The vessel was marketed with continuous bollard pull of 180 tonnes. During an anchor-handling operation, in practice thrusters are always used for manoeuvring and dynamic positioning. The real bollard pull is then materially reduced. The company did not itself investigate whether the vessel was suited to the operation, but left this to the master.

• The company did not see to the acquisition of information about the content and scope of the assignment the “Bourbon Dolphin” was set to carry out. The company did not itself do any review of the Rig Move Procedure (RMP) with a view to risk exposure for crew and vessel. The company was thus not in a position to offer guidance.

• The Norwegian classification society Det norske Veritas (DNV) and the Norwegian Maritime Directorate were unable to detect the failures in the company’s systems though their audits.

• In specifying the vessel, the operator did not take account of the fact that the real bollard pull would be materially reduced through use of thrusters. In practice the “Bourbon Dolphin” was unsuited to dealing with the great forces to which she was exposed.

• The mooring system and the deployment method chosen were demanding to handle and vulnerable in relation to environmental forces.

• Planning of the RMP was incomplete. The procedure lacked fundamental and concrete risk assessments. Weather criteria were not defined and the forces were calculated for better weather conditions than they chose to operate in. Defined safety barriers were lacking. It was left to the discretion of the rig and the vessels whether operations should start or be suspended.

• In advance of the operation no start-up meeting with all involved parties was held. The vessels did not receive sufficient information about what could be expected of them, and the master misunderstood the vessel’s role.

• The procedure demanded the use of two vessels that had to operate at close quarters in different phases during the recovery and deployment of anchors. The increased risk exposure of the vessels was not reflected in the procedure.

• The procedure lacked provisions for alternative measures (contingency planning), for example in uncontrollable drifting from the run-out line. Nor were there guidelines for when and in what way such alternative measures should be implemented and what if any risk these would involve.

• The deployment of anchor no. 2 was commenced without the considerable drifting during the deployment of the diagonal anchor no. 6 had been evaluated.

• Human error on the part of the rig and the vessels during the performance of the operation.

• Communication and coordination between the rig and the vessel was defective during the last phase of the operation.

• Lack of involvement on the part of the rig when the “Bourbon Dolphin” drifted.

• The roll reduction tank was most probably in use at the time of the accident.

• The inner starboard towing pin had been depressed and the chain was lying against the outer starboard towing pin. The chain thereby acquired a changed angle of attack.

The incident was investigated by a Royal Commission which held five open hearings and questioned 38 witnesses, including the survivors, officers from other vessels that participated in the operation, individuals from the owner company, the shipyard, the operator company Chevron, the drillrig “Transocean Rather”, the UK consultancy firm Trident, and The Norwegian Maritime Directorate and the classification society Det Norske Veritas. In addition the Commission has collected and reviewed a large quantity of documentation related to the vessel and the operation in which the “Bourbon Dolphin” was involved when the accident happened. The Commission has also had access to underwater footage of the casualty taken straight after the capsize and of the wreck in December 2007. Members of the Commission have held a meeting with the parties’ stability experts and gained access to material that the latter had collected.

In its report the Commission points out that it is not possible to show that an individual error, whether technical or human, led to the accident; rather, a series of circumstances acted together to cause the loss of the vessel. The Commission concludes that the proximate causes of the accident were the vessel’s change of course to port (west) so as to get away from mooring line no. 3, at the same time as the inner starboard towing pin was depressed, causing the chain to rest against the outer port towing pin. This gave the chain an altered point and angle of attack on the vessel. Together with the vessel’s current load condition, the fact that the roll reduction tank was probably in use, and the effect on the vessel and chain of external forces, caused the vessel to capsize.

It emerges from the report that a number of indirect factors have contributed to the accident. A combination of weaknesses in the design of the vessel, and failures in the handling of safety systems by the company, by the operator and on the rig, are major contributory factors to the operation of 12 April 2007 coming out of control. Overall, system failures on the part of many players caused necessary safety barriers to be lacking, were ignored or were breached, so that the vessel and crew were exposed to a risk that resulted in the accident.

The Commission also makes a number of recommendations in its report with a view to preventing similar accidents in the future. Although no structural changes are proposed for existing vessels, it is recommended that in the future requirements are made for the preparation of stability calculations for anchor-handling that will be subject to approval by the authorities. In addition, requirements are proposed for formal training of winch operators and a review of requirements for survival suits, plus placement and installation of rescue floats. The Commission also proposes measures to improve the companies’ safety management systems. Risk assessments must be improved, there must be routines for overlap of new personnel and identification of the necessary crew qualifications, plus the preparation of vessel-specific anchor-handling procedures.

The Commission also points out that the operators’ rig move procedures must be made specific for every operation and be simple to understand for those operating under them. It must be insisted that the operator and rig prepare risk assessments for the entire operation before it is commenced. When the operation is executed, safety and coordination must be continuously evaluated. The Commission also proposes that an attention zone be introduced along the anchor line, indicating a maximum distance within which the vessel shall remain when running out anchors.

Press Conference Video

Commission Report, preliminary English Version

Animation, first sequence

Animation, Second Sequence

Cautionary Tales 1: Crane Pennant Injury

 maritime safety news, safety flash  Comments Off on Cautionary Tales 1: Crane Pennant Injury
Mar 072008

Seaman Injured in Crane Pennant Wire Incident

From the Marine Safety Forum:
A vessel was working cargo in the early afternoon. Lighting conditions were good and the weather conditions were within acceptable limits – SSW at 30 knots with 3.0m significant wave height. The only available space for backload was at the stern of the deck.

Two ABs were in the process of disconnecting a 20-foot half height basket, AB1 holding the crane pennant and AB2 disconnecting the hook. As the stern of the ship fell into the trough of a wave, AB1 suddenly found himself hoisted into the air 2-3 feet, at which point he let go and landed on the deck on his feet. He felt a slight twinge to his back but continued working. When the ship left the platform, he informed the bridge of the incident but continued working until the end of his shift.

The following morning, the AB found that his back had stiffened up such that he was no longer able to work, and when the vessel returned to port he was signed off for two weeks.

Lessons Learned
• Though the ABs had concerns about the movement of the hook and pennant wire, they did not call a safety time out.

• The ABs should not have continued to disconnect the pennant if they felt there was
insufficient slack.

• If in doubt, ‘stop the job’ and review.

• Be aware that the stern of a ship has the greatest vertical movement in a seaway.

• A brief tool box talk must be held before every new or routine task to review the hazards.

• When an incident occurs, it must be reported immediately to prevent a recurrence, and
early attention may help to mitigate any injury sustained.

 Posted by at 14:17

Granny’s Bloomers and Safety In Confined Spaces

 confined space, enclosed space, maritime safety news, SafeSpace  Comments Off on Granny’s Bloomers and Safety In Confined Spaces
Feb 262008

Department stores attach radio frequency Identity, RFID, tags on their goods to ensure that, for instance, their DVD players go out the front door by way of the cash register rather than tucked down some light fingered granny’s bloomers. New versions of that technology have much to offer the maritime industry once it decides to put a premium on safety.

RFID tags contain tiny radio transmitters that can be picked up by a reader. Research being funded, among others, by BP, will see smarter versions appearing in the workplace that can, for instance, monitor work and rest periods, the amount of vibration a worker is exposed to by machinery and ensure that these remain within accepted limited for health. For seafarers, however, these little tell-tales could mean the difference between life and death. Continue reading »

Lifeboats – The Pinto Of The Sea

 IMO, lifeboat, lifeboat accidents, lifeboat safety  Comments Off on Lifeboats – The Pinto Of The Sea
Feb 142008

Next week sees the 51st session of the IMO Sub-Committee meeting on ship design and equipment, DE51, at Bonn’s appropriately named Hotel Maritim. High on the agenda will be those Ford Pintos of the sea, lifeboats, and the appalling record, and growing, of accidents and fatalities since the introduction of on-load release hooks two decades ago.

There will be discussion about the wisdom or otherwise of mandating that lifeboats been maintained by manufacturer-certificated companies or independent third parties. MAC has already given its opinion.

Last December the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued a Marine Information Note, MIN 315, based on a research project, 555, with recommendations that included urgently identifying unstable on-load release hooks and replacing them, “and the transition made at the earliest possible time”.

It urged a safety performance specification for lifeboat launching systems, to be developed and imposed by IMO regulation on the equipment manufacturers, while the responsibility for developing safe and fit for purpose on-load hooks is to be the responsibility of the manufacturers.

Lifeboat on-load release hooks “must prove to be safe and fit for purpose by means of a safety case regime. This regime should comprise a design safety case for each type or make of hook, supplemented by an operational safety case incorporating the design safety case but extended to interface with ship-specific safety management arrangements.”

In view of the serious nature of the hazard, says MIN 315, only as interim risk reduction measures, to avoid further unnecessary fatalities during mandatory lifeboat tests and trials a system should be introduced whereby maintenance shackles are rigged to by-pass the on-load release hook during lowering and recovery, but are disconnected at all other times.

None of these are new recommendation, they seem pretty obvious, nor are those in MIN 315 suggesting, implicitly, if not explicitly, the introduction of single-fall capsules in place of twin fall davit launch systems.

It is a long standing issue. In July 1994 the Oil Companies International Marine Forum, OCIMF published the results of a survey identifying the disturbing frequency of lifeboat accidents. A second report produced by OCIMP along with SIGTTO and Intertanko confirmed the seriousness of the problem. It is now seven years since the MAIB review of lifeboat and launching systems accident. In all, 14 years during which the industry as a whoe would probably find it difficult to put its hand over its heart and say that serious efforts have been made to deal with the issue.

We are unlikely to see any radical solutions adopted at DE51, although few doubt the need for them. The IMO struggles with a continuous need for consensus that militates against firm action Nevertheless, there is justifiable hope of a nudge in the right direction.

The mutuals, P&I Clubs are taking an active role on the issue, with the International Group gathering data. Gard will be displaying 16 of around 70-odd different types of release during the meeting’s coffee break, which will be the first time many of the delegates will have seen, let alone handled, these devices.

Its hoped that the complexity, questionable designs, engineering deficiencies and poor quality of too many of these devices will impress upon the delegates why, on a manhour basis, lifeboat accidents account for an unacceptably high number of seafarer deaths.

Manufacturers blame seafarer incompetence insufficient training and bad maintenance. In the case of the Lowlands Grace, for instance, a keel stay with undetected corrosion snapped under shock load which resulted in the aft hook assembly separating. The fore hook should have been able to take the load but a non-manufacturer-compliant suspension ring had been used and it bent against a bolt assembly invoking forces which opened the hook and dropped the lifeboat 16 metres, nearly 50 feet, into the sea. Two seafarers died, three others were badly injured.

True, seafarers have been known to act unwisely or without forethought. It has been know for a seafarer to use add a length of pipe on the hook reset handle inside the lifeboat to force it into position, causing the hook to be reset improperly, and dangerously. Crew on the Aratere knew there was a problem with the vessel’s lifeboat on-load release hooks but neither reported it nor did anything about it. Fortunately the lifeboat fell from little more than a metre from the water and no-one was hurt.

On the Cape Kestrel an engineer by-passed safety devices during the recovery of a lifeboat, excerbating a problem with the lifeboat falls, resulting in serious injuries.

Lifeboat manufacturers, too, have shown lack of forethought. The Bahamas investigator’s report on the Valparaiso Star incident shows that the hooks were designed, positioned and operated in a way that made it difficult to check whether they were properly reset and the limited deck space on the lifeboat made it awkward, and possibly dangerous in the case of any significant seas, to attach the hooks to the suspensions.


On this lifeboat, from the Valparaiso Star, it was difficult to see whether the hook were properly reset.

The UK P&I Club noted in a recent bulletin: “Improved training is similarly unlikely to be a sufficiently effective measure. This is because human error is inevitable, particularly under the difficult working conditions (time pressures, language barriers, fatigue, cold, dark, wet, etc) which typically prevail on board. Given the reality of this context, it is entirely inappropriate for a safety critical system (i.e. an unstable design of on-load hook) to be catastrophically susceptible to single human error.”

Freefall lifeboats may lack many of inherent dangers of davit-launched lifeboats, but here, too, there are questionable designs on the market which suggest lack of forethought as to how they will be used in practice. One design has a coxswain’s seat that lays down for the launch of the craft to reduce the chances of injury. In that position, however, the coxswain cannot reach the controls of the lifeboat at the very time he needs to have access to them and someone else must lift him into position.

Unlike any other ‘people carrier’, lifeboat releases are design to ‘fail to unsafe’. If an elevator cable fails, the elevator stops. If a lifeboat hook fails, the boat falls.

Blaming seafarers themselves for lifeboat accidents is like blaming the driver of a burnt-out Ford Pinto for not driving safely.

What the history of lifeboat accidents shows is that IMO compliance has little if anything to do with safety, which makes one ask what is the purpose of compliance. In fact, a relatively safe hook, one which requires positive action to open, would not comply with IMO rules.

Second generation hooks are ‘safer’, and many can be retrofitted. They include mechanisms that clearly show whether or not the hook is properly set and, typically a pin that must be removed before the hook will open.

It is understood that the International Lifeboat Group will be present a proposal for a future hook design at DE51. Unfortunately it is likely to be accepted as a recommendation rather that mandated equipment, but any move towards standardising hook design and the controls of lifeboats is to be applauded. After all, if a Mack 16-wheeler can used the same controls as a 1958 Morris Mini, then there’s no reason why it can’t apply to lifeboats, too?

The use of scale models and mock-ups of hook releases is an encouraging move, although they lose their value when the seafarer moves to another ship with different equipment.

Mandating more training will probably be ineffective unless it’s better training and unless it is back-up with regular competency assessments.

In the long term, as suggested by Admiral JS Lang’s comments that the MAIB review “poses the potentially controversial question as to whether lifeboats are strictly necessary in this day and age.”

This is the day and age of the Bow Mariner disaster, in which a severe list of the ship made it impossible to launch port or starboard lifeboats.

One of the Bow Mariner Lifeboats

It is the day and age when vessels are so large that the concept of lowering a lifeboat in bad weather, the very conditions under which they are most likely to be launched, seems to defy common sense.

Fred Fry Lifeboat

Just add a storm and you’re facing disaster in this photo from Fred Fry International

The danger is not hypothetical, as the Coop Venture incident demonstrates.


Seafarers died while this lifeboat was being lowered from a sinking ship in a storm

The reality, of course, is that, for now, we’re stuck with systems that are hazardous to the very people they are supposed to save. The best that can be hoped for in the immediate future is a mixture of retrofitting ‘safer’ equipment, enhancing seafarer training, using competency assessment to ensure they can actually do the job, and maybe retrofitting low-maintenance equipment designed for use in the real-world by real seafarers.