Our product tanker was approaching port to pick up the inward pilot. The designated accommodation ladder (gangway) had been unlashed in preparation for berthing.
The Ordinary Seaman (O/S) who was helping the Bosun went aft to get the stanchions while the Bosun was retrieving other components from the midship store. At this time, the Master and duty officer who were on the bridge saw the gangway fall wire rope part. The ladder fell into the water and was dragged along, held only by the upper platform fastenings.
The Master immediately reduced speed and stopped engine. The gangway was picked up using chain blocks prior to embarking the pilot. As a precaution, pending wire renewal, the vessel used the portable ladder during her port stay, in agreement with the pilot / terminal. The next day, a new wire fall was fitted and the system was successfully tested.
Root causes/contributory factors
1 The fall wire had a kink in way of the failure location, believed to be a permanent stress point when the gangway is swung out to upper deck level;
2 The reeving arrangement of the fall wire consisted of a multi-drum winch, meant to rotate simultaneously for lowering / hoisting. It is believed that a slight disparity in synchronisation imposed high stress on the fall wire;
3 The crew failed to properly monitor the stress on the wire and the movement of the winch drums when preparing the gangway;
4 Inadequate inspection by the crew prior to breaking out the gangway;
5 Ineffective inspection/maintenance/record-keeping of the gangway, wire and fittings by the crew during routine maintenance;
6 There was no crew standing by in the vicinity when the gangway lashings were removed and the gangway was being prepared for use;
7 The fall wire had a fibre core.
Onboard procedures revised to ensure that the crew:
1 Properly inspect the gangway, fall wires, and all standing and moving parts for proper condition and operation prior to unlashing / rigging and after securing the gangway;
2 Confirm that the winch drums are properly synchronised;
3 Update and keep inspection and maintenance records as per PMS;
4 Do not leave the gangway unattended once the lashings are removed until the gangway is fully rigged or secured
Source: Mars/Nautical Institute