Marine operations are extremely complex and involve a great deal of coordination and attention. Procedures and operations, if not carried out with the utmost care can result in fatal accidents and unnecessary loss of life.
In 2009, the UK P&I Club reported that mooring accidents have resulted in injury to a great deal of seafarers and cost the UK Club over USD 34 million. Many of these accidents have occurred during the handling of ropes/wires, where ropes/wires have parted (53%) or where ropes/wires have jumped/slipped off drum ends/bitts (42%) with 5% caused by actual equipment failure
A mooring system is made up of a mooring line, anchor and connectors, and is used for station keeping of a ship or floating platform in all water depths. A mooring line connects an anchor on the seafloor to a floating structure. The mooring lines run from the vessel to the anchors on the seafloor.
Mooring is the operation performed first and foremost by the deck crew as the ship reaches the port – but it is also one of the most difficult, complex and dangerous jobs on board. Mostly things turn out safely. But sometimes an accident occurs and this usually has severe consequences.
Latti & Anderson states, “Mooring operations is a task that can be dangerous if the worker does not have the proper skills and knowledge prior. Any crewmembers that are mooring must be properly trained beforehand and have an understanding of what the snap back zones and rope bights are.”
The Krist Law Firm, P.C, says that there are a number of ways that a mooring line may cause a catastrophic accident that results in serious or fatal injuries for nearby dock workers. Common causes of accidents involving mooring lines may include:
- Faulty or damaged equipment causing mooring lines to snap
- Cinched cables or mooring lines that have been tied too tightly
- Incidents caused by inexperienced or insufficient crew
- Tripping over cables or mooring lines
Max Groups states, “mooring accidents happen from time to time mostly due to lack of concentration and factors that can be avoided. Some seafarers call these factors the ‘death traps’ on ships. Equipped with the know-how of how to avoid these ‘death traps’, the occurrence of accidents involving innocent seafarers can be reduced. Deck crew has to be familiar with safety precautions and have great understanding of the deck machineries.”
Sea Health gives the 10 rules of thumb for safe mooring operations:
Sea News Feature, March 5