Mars Report 2013 – Experience Feedback
The Nautical Institute has issued Mars Report No.2/2013 regarding leg severed by towline.
A tug and tow arrived at the outer roads of a port and was preparing to embark a pilot. Due to restricted sea room, the tow wire had to be shortened in order to enter the port. As the tug began to heave in the tow wire, the towing winch suffered a burst hydraulic oil line which could not be immediately repaired. In order not to abort the port entry, the crew quickly stoppered off the wire, and after turning the slack around the capstan on the port quarter, resumed the shortening operation. As the capstan heaved in the wire, the crew manually flaked about 75 metres of it on the deck to achieve the desired length of tow. Intending to belay the wire around a pair of bitts, the crew re-applied the chain stopper. However, due to the relative movement of the vessels, the towline came under sudden tension.
The chain stopper was unable to hold the wire, which began running uncontrollably off the deck and over the stern roller. Unfortunately, the C/O was standing to seaward of the rapidly escaping wire and his right leg was caught in a bight and severed. The casualty was quickly airlifted to a hospital along with the severed limb packed in ice. Although his leg could not be saved, he was extremely lucky that he was not killed.
A hasty change to a planned task or operation in progress is very likely to lead to an accident, especially if a new risk assessment is not conducted.
Source: The Nautical Insitute/ MARS