The incident

On 21 January 2017, the vessel experienced adverse weather conditions. 'Immensity' was also experiencing gale force wind from the North Northwest. The vessel was rolling heavily and pitching, and experiencing significant accelerations.

Later in the journey the course was altered towards the North Northwest to minimise as much as possible the vessel’s movement. The situation improved and the vessel was not experiencing particular rolling and pitching. However, concerned on the condition of the cargo lashings on the main
deck, the master decided to carry out an inspection of the area.

In the afternoon, the master, the chief mate and the bosun went on deck. The inspection on deck did not reveal any damages to the cargo or its lashings. The three crew members made their way back to the accommodation after assuring that there was no slackness in the lashing and the
cargo condition was satisfactory.

However, the vessel was hit by an unexpected wave, which was powerful enough to knock the chief mate from his feet. The chief mate lost his balance and fell to the deck. It was not excluded that he also hit against the hatch coaming and the chief mate was assisted by the master and the bosun to the accommodation.

After the accident, the chief mate started complaining of pain in the chest area and later he was having difficulty to breath and the vessel company was immediately informed. The nearest SAR centre was also informed. A helicopter arrived on the vessel and the chief mate was lifted after the fourth attempt because of the adverse weather conditions close to the Spanish coast.

A CT scan revealed a collapsed right lung and emphysema at the level of the anterior right thoracic wall in connection with fractures to the anterolateral ribs numbers 5 and 6. Swelling in the area was also observed. The chief mate had three surgical interventions before he was discharged from hospital about a month later.

Probable cause

The cause of the accident was a high energy trauma caused by exposure to green seas on deck.

The risk of working on deck in adverse weather conditions had been appreciated by the crew members, even because the vessel’s course was altered to minimise the ship’s movements.

There was also significant concern of slack lashing as a result of the adverse weather conditions. This may also be indicative that the crew members were not expecting such weather.

Furthermore, the risk of working on an open deck during dark hours had been accepted because of the associated outcome, like the verification that the vessel’s cargo and its lashing were safe.

For more information about the accident, click in the PDF herebelow