Compressed Gas Cylindres Can Be A Pain In The Bottom, Again

 Accident, Accident report, explosion, fire/explosion, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on Compressed Gas Cylindres Can Be A Pain In The Bottom, Again
Nov 222011

A pain in the bottom

MAC has previously noted that corroded, pressurised air cylindres in lifeboat can be a pain in the bottom. Step Change In Safety’s latest safety alert is a reminder of the importance of ensuring that compressed air or gas cylinders, fire extinguishers and hydraulic systems are regularly inspected, maintained and hydraulically tested at recommended intervals. They must be renewed if there are any signs of wastage or corrosion, which may be particularly serious in locations that are exposed or enclosed.

Says the alert: An oil tanker’s totally enclosed fibreglass lifeboats were equipped with high-pressure air cylinders stowed beside the keel. One day at sea – shortly after the lifeboats had undergone a 5-yearly inspection by an accredited contractor – one of the compressed air cylinders suddenly and spontaneously burst, resulting in extensive damage to the lifeboat’s keel and hull. Fortunately, no-one was injured. Once the vessel arrived in port, a local lifeboat service company was contracted to investigate the incident and assess the damage with a view to carrying out repairs. In the absence of supporting documents (certificates/ work reports etc.) and from the dates punched on the cylinders, it appeared that it was more than six years since the last hydraulic test of the air cylinders. (IACS Recommendation No.88: Air bottles for air supply in totally enclosed lifeboats should be hydraulic pressure tested by a competent service station recognised by a Recognised Organisation at intervals not exceeding 5 years and the hydrostatic test date must be permanently marked on the bottles.) Continue reading »

Tombarra Tragedy Highlights FRC Incidents

 Accident, falls, fatality, lifeboat, lifeboat accidents  Comments Off on Tombarra Tragedy Highlights FRC Incidents
Mar 072011


Contrary to some reports the tragedy aboard the Wihelmsen-operated ro-ro car carrier Tombarra in which one mariner died and three were injured on 7 February involved a fast rescue craft, FRC, rather than a lifeboat.

Lifeboats are designed for evacuation, not recovery, a concept that has proved to be dangerously limited over the past two decades, but FRCs are, or should be designed for both launch and recovery, so the tragedies that occur when they fall are especially worrying.

An investigation is underway. Local news reports refer to the breaking of a strap. Continue reading »

Jul 172009

Ship helmsman sentenced to 10 months for oil spill
San Jose Mercury News – San Jose,CA,USA
Cota was the pilot of the 901-foot Cosco Busan when it slammed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on the foggy morning of Nov. 7, 2007.

Lifeboat to the aid of nuclear vessel
Campbeltown Courier – Campbeltown,Scotland,UK
CAMPBELTOWN Lifeboat went to the aid of a crewmember on board a nuclear fuel transporter on Saturday morning. The man had been taken ill on board the vessel

Crewman severs fingers in fishing accident – New Bedford,MA,USA
The 88-foot fishing vessel Eileen Marie reported the injury to the Coast Guard at 10:46 pm Wednesday, according to a Coast Guard press release.

Fishermen survivors return home to Quang Ngai
Thanh Nien Daily – Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam
Nine fishermen who survived a collision with an unidentified foreign ship in the central province of Quang Ngai on Wednesday returned onshore Thursday

Fear of oil spill
Times of India – India
KARWAR: The accident of MV Shahin on Friday is similar to the accident of ship — Ocean Seria — that took place three years ago, in the same place. .

Coast Guard: Alcohol not a factor in scalloper grounding – New Bedford,MA,USA
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard reported that the vessel’s four crewmen, who were rescued without injury, tested negative for alcohol.

Philippines – MFA – Filipino Seafarer Afflicted with CA-MRSA and A
ISRIA – France
The Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong sadly reports the demise of a 42-year-old Filipino male seafarer from La Union province found to be

Coast Guard warns: Beacon ID mix-up led to wreck of Lady Mary
Press of Atlantic City – Atlantic City,NJ,USA
partly to determine if another vessel collided with the ill-fated scalloper. The cause of the sinking remains unknown. AP contributed to this story.

Korean Anti-Heeling System
TankTech, a marine equipment maker located in Noksan Industrial Complex in Busan, South Korea, announced that it has succeeded in developing ‘Anti-Heeling System’ using two-way propeller pump, after two-year long R&D.

JSMEA discloses more fake cases
The Japanese Marine Equipment Association (JSMEA) has revealed further incidents of counterfeit marine products.

The JSMEA said two members of the association, Yanmar and Daihatsu Diesel, had reached out-of-court settlements after filing civil law suits against compatriot marine equipment manufacturers Marinco and Nikki World Trading.

Both companies are alleged to have counterfeited engine parts and marketed them as the products of Yanmar and Daihatsu.


Modern piracy in consulates
la estrella – Panama
Varela said that they are too many irregularities in the consulates and currently he is assembling together with the Panama Maritime Authority a team that

Under The Radar

Swarm of bees force yacht crew overboard

When insects attack at sea – scary…

Practical Boat Owner, 17 July 2009

Freefall release fears shut platform

 maritime accidents  Comments Off on Freefall release fears shut platform
Jan 132009

Problems with freefall lifeboat releases have led to the shutdown of the StatoilHydro-operated Kristin platform off Norway. Investigations are underway both by Statoil and Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority, PSA..

In December last year a freefall lifeboat on the Veslefrikk B platform failed to launch as part of an operation to replace the lifeboat. The release hook required lubrication and several movements before it would function.

Further hook release problems arose with the new freefall lifeboat when fully laden.

The same type of Umoe-Schatt Harding FF1000S had been installed on the Kristin platform. Staffing on the platform has now been cut from 90 to 16 following similar hook release problems in mid-December.

Last year, a freefall lifeboat of similar design on Veslefrikk B suffered damage when launched during a test, again leading to a platform shutdown, revealing design flaws. Three freefall lifeboats were taken out of service. In a meeting with the PSA, Statoil expressed doubt “concerning the quality of these lifeboats as a means of evacuation during all types of weather conditions.”.

See also:

The Case Of The Fallen Saviour

Sep 062008

Compared to other launch systems,
free-fall lifeboat accidents are relatively rare.
This one was just a drop in the ocean.

Listen To The Podcast


Main Page

Free Fall Lifeboat Hazards – A Drop In The Ocean

 accident reporting, lifeboat, lifeboat accidents  Comments Off on Free Fall Lifeboat Hazards – A Drop In The Ocean
Sep 012008

As a backgrounder to the forthcoming The Case Of The Fallen Saviour podcast:

Freefall lifeboat concepts have been around for 110 years. The earliest known patent was issued to AE Falk of Stockholm, Sweden, on 30th March 1897. It was to be stern-launched from a ramp at a height of three metres.

It next surfaced as a suggestion by a Captain White of the Bay and River Navigation Company is the US. The US Department of Commerce Bureau of Marine Inspection and Nagivation considered the idea too dangerous to put into practice.

In 1959 the modern-type of freefall lifeboat came into being. A Dutch sea captain approached yacht-builder Joost Verhoef of Aalsmeer, Netherlands with an idea for a freefall lifeboat. Verhoef designed and built the first such lifeboat of aluminium and the design went into service in 1961 but was not popular with shipping companies, being significantly more expensive that traditional davit-launched designs.

The advantages of a design that could be launched safely under a wide variety of sea conditions and list was not appreciated until 1973 when, after two serious ship incidents the Norwegian Maritime Authority commissioned the Norwegian Ship Research Institute to design a launch system with was tested in Hardanger Fjord in 1976 from a height of 20 metres. The first manned launch took place from the m/s Tarcoola the following year and the design was formally approved 1978.

Freefall lifeboats came into their own in the offshore industries following the Pipe Alpha disaster.

Although freefall lifeboats are regarded as safer than davit-launched lifeboats, and have been used successfully in at least two maritime incidents, they do have their shortcomings, in particular with the evacuation of injured personnel.

Less complicated more reliable, due to the simplicity of the fundamental design, than davit launched lifeboats, freefall lifeboats have one potential area of hazard which they share with davit-launched designs and three in particular which are unique to the freefall design.

As with davit-launched boats, poor training, drills, lack of safety awareness, unclear manuals and signage can lead to confusion that may result in accidental launch and subsequent injury of personnel not properly seated and secured.

Unique to freefall lifeboats is the issue of potential injuries to occupants when launched from height, in particular the coxswain. While the occupants face towards the stern during the launch, the coxswain must face forward, which, even if restrained, can lead to back injuries. One solution has been to incline the coxswain seat to reduce the risk of injury, a position which puts critical lifeboat control out of reach during launch and it may be difficult for the coxswain to recover from the launch position to take command.

A second element is the need to attach slings during drills and maintenance as is apparent from this report from the Britannia P&I Club.

In that case a freefall life released unexpectedly when restraining slings failed during a drill. Three crewmembers onboard suffered only minor injuries, despite a considerable drop, because they were properl;y strapped in.

Investigation of the sling showed that it had been cut through in way of the securing grip, possibly by thieves intending but failing to steal it. The slings had not been supplied by the lifeboat manufacturer and may not have met the appropriate specifications.

One should check slings before use and ask ‘is there a certificate showing that your slings are fit for purpose? Is it onboard?

A further issue specific to freefall designs is the effect of impact on the forward part of the lifeboat, in particular the forward window and the superstructure.

A freefall lifeboat was damaged during a test on Veslefrikk B offshore facility on the Norwegian Shelf on 21 June 2005. The report by Veslefrikk B operator Statoil concludes that the superstructure of the relevant lifeboat may have had manufacture and/or design flaws.

Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority reports: “The PSA asked the supplier of this type of lifeboat – Umoe Schat-Harding – to inform all of its customers that use FF 1000-type lifeboats about the incident on Veslefrikk B…Statoil’s investigation report does not provide any clear conclusions as to why the damage occurred, but the company has appointed a new group which has been given a mandate to identify the flaw. Since the causal relations are unclear, Statoil cannot rule out that the weakness on the free-fall lifeboat has relevance for comparable types of free-fall lifeboats…Based on the investigation report, Statoil concluded in the meeting with the PSA that the company is in doubt concerning the quality of these lifeboats as a means of evacuation during all types of weather conditions..The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway shares this doubt.”

Subsequently, The PSA attempted to collaborate with the OLF, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association but withdrew due to lack of input from the industry.

While that issue may have been resolved – Schatt-Harding recalled six freefall lifeboats from offshore rigs for strengthening – it should be noted that core concept of the lifeboat, whether freefall or davit launched, is as a use-once evacuation mechanism, not as a ‘people carrier’. Mandatory requirements focus on launch rather than recovery and, while most lifeboat designs will meet the criteria for launch they may not be designed for repeated launch and recovery and may not be fit for such purpose.

Put simply, lifeboats are not designed to be durable, something of particular concern with regard to hull strength, a critical factor in the safety of freefall lifeboats. A 1993 study2 suggests that fibreglass hulls can, over time, loose as much as 50 per cent of hull strength, something especially undesirable in a freefall lifeboat.

Such weakness may not be apparent during shipboard use, given the relative infrequency of launches of freefall lifeboats, and may not become apparent until launched under particularly stressful conditions.

An example is a training school which acquired a 13 year old freefall lifeboat for training purposes. The lifeboat was fully consistent with mandatory requirements. During one launch the forward window in the coxswain’s position popped out of its frame and damage was caused to the coxswain’s seat, with the potential of serious injury to the coxswain. During another launch, set screws fixing the propeller shaft to the engine transmission sheared, the shaft and propeller being pulled partway out of the lifeboat.

It would appear evident that factors in including age of lifeboat, the number of launch cycles and the height of launch – which will influence the mechaincal stresses which it undergoes – need to be considered in maintenance and replacement schedules.

Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill

 grounding, lifeboat, maritime accidents  Comments Off on Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill
Apr 222008

We’ll be covering the MAIB’s 56 page and two annexe MSC Napoli report in more depth anon but a footnote got our immediate attention:

“It was evident during the investigation that the master had placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of safety drills and the maintenance of lifesaving equipment, and that the preparation and lowering of lifeboats had been well-practiced in accordance with company policy.”

No-one was hurt during the evacuation from the ship, and that may be owed to the seriousness with which the master took safety procedures and drills.

The abandon ship did not go without a hitch, “the crewman sitting nearest the forward painter release could not pull the release pin sufficiently far to allow the painter to disengage. He was squeezed between two other crew and his movement was restricted by his immersion suit. The painter was eventually cut by the chief engineer, who had a knife, and was able to reach the painter via the lifeboat’s forward hatch.”

Conditions in the lifeboat were far from easy: “The motion of the lifeboat was violent and the atmosphere in the lifeboat was very uncomfortable; all of the crew suffered from sea sickness. Although the lifeboat was certified to accommodate up to 32 persons, the 26 crew wearing immersion suits and lifejackets were very cramped. They were very warm and several felt faint and de-hydrated. The situation became more tolerable after the crew cut off the gloves from their immersion suits with the chief engineer’s knife. This allowed them to use their hands more effectively, and they were able to drink from plastic drinking water bottles
they had brought with them.”

Says the MAIB report: “The abandonment of a vessel in any conditions is problematic. Therefore, the abandonment and successful recovery of the 26 crew from MSC Napoli, in the severe conditions experienced, is praiseworthy. By the time the master arrived at the lifeboat embarkation position, the crew were on board and wearing immersion suits and lifejackets, the engine was running, extra water had been stowed on board, and VHF radios, SARTs and the EPIRB were ready for use. Despite the vessel rolling heavily, the enclosed lifeboat was lowered without incident and then manoeuvred clear of the stricken vessel. Although there were a number of practical issues that should be noted, this successful abandonment clearly demonstrates the importance and value of regular maintenance and drills.”

Sadly, drills are often carried out for the sake of filling in bits of paper, and sometimes not at all, but drills are a pretty good insurance policy.