The incident

The morning of the accident the chief mate was on the bridge wing and caught a glimpse of a person on the port boat deck. He went to the area and noticed that a crew member was lying motionless on his back near the staircase. A mobile phone set was close nearby. The chief mate hurried towards the crew member but was later pronounced dead.

After an autopsy report was conducted, no narcotic or psychotropic drugs were revealed, but the autopsy indicated presence of ethanol in blood (1.9 %) and in the urine (2.2 %), which may have impaired cognition or caused poor coordination.

The safety investigation has determined that the crew member was neither on duty nor assigned any work at the time of the accident. His last rest period was of no less than 12 hours, therefore is not considered a contributing cause of the accident.

Probable cause

The autopsy revealed fatal injuries to the head and facial area and concluded blunt fatal head injuries, causing hypostasis and inturgescence of the brain, extensive haemorrhage under the meninges and focal bruises of the tissue of the brain. The report also said that the injuries could have been caused by a blunt trauma to the parietal area of the head, hitting a hard surface, probably several hours before death.

 

The toxicological tests of blood and urine revealed no narcotic or psychotropic drugs but identified 1.9 ‰ presence of ethanol in blood and 2.2 % in urine. The autopsy further stated that the specified concentration of ethanol in blood could correspond to a lifetime average degree of alcoholic intoxication.

The possibility of condensation on the cold staircase is not excluded, making the steps slippery. Moreover, the crewmember was wearing jogging shoes which may have caused him to slip down the staircase. The crew member may have also missed his footing or handhold while using his mobile phone, the accident report says.

Recommendations

After the accident, Mariteam Services Inc. was recommended to do the following:

  • Carry out unannounced and regular alcohol tests on board.
  • Bring this safety investigation report to the attention of all crew members serving on board company vessels to emphasis the implementation of the company’s drug and alcohol policy.

Additionally, The flag State Administration is recommended to issue a Notice to all managers of Maltese registered vessels, highlighting the potential safety issues as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol.

For more information about the accident, click the PDF herebelow