The incident

Eugenia B, a 26,778 gt, bulk carrier, flying the Maltese flag arrived at Iskenderun Roads, Turkey on 25 November 2017, to discharge 654 steel coils from cargo holds nos. 2 and 4.

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The operations were running smoothly until the day of the accident. Namely, on 30 November 2017, the stevedores boarded the vessel to resume the discharge operations, after the lunch break.

During the cargo operations, the duty officer heard a sudden loud sound, accompanied by a yell. After that, on the tanktop inside cargo hold no. 2, he noticed one stevedore lying motionless.

The stevedore was transferred to the hospital, where after a few hours succumbed to his injuries.

Probable cause

According to Transport Malta, the cargo hold access cover was designed to help a person climb the vertical ladder. A stopper pin was there to keep the cargo hold access cover secured and in a vertical and open position. However, the cargo hold access cover’s stopper pin was totally dislodged and the hinges had failed, most probably while the stevedore was climbing out of cargo hold no. 2

What is more, the cargo hold access cover had signs of general corrosion. Material wastage was apparent, suggesting that it had not been maintained over the months prior to the accident.

In addition, the investigation identified that:

  • Absence of either a fall preventer or a fall arrester;
  • The repetitive ascends and descends into cargo holds on numerous ships by stevedores and crew members alike may indicate that the use of a fall preventer / arrestor is actually not necessary;
  • The covers had not been thoroughly inspected as part of a maintenance regime applied on board and may have been even missed, given that they were rarely used and always kept in the open position;
  • Neither the vessel nor the Company were aware of the hazard and related consequences. Communication of the risks involved was therefore compromised;
  • The safety management system on board, in particular the area addressing planned maintenance systems on board, may have not adequately elicited the importance of these fittings among crew members, taking also into consideration that crew members did not raise any particular concerns with the Company on the subject matter.

Recommendations

A. B. Maritime Inc. was recommended to:

  • Review its planned maintenance regime within the safety management system of the Company, to ensure that critical fittings inside the cargo holds are also thoroughly inspected and maintained, as necessary.

Furthermore, the Merchant Shipping Directorate was suggested to:

  • Review its ship inspection checklist form to ensure that cargo hold access covers are structurally sound;
  • Bring the matter to the attention of all recognised organisations.

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