Hong Kong Merchant Shipping Information Note
While the Hong Kong registered vessel was underway, the Bosun worked on the lowerplatform of the accommodation ladder trying to recover the combined accommodation andpilot ladders after the disembarkation of ship pilot. He fell into the water anddisappeared. His body was found later but was certified dead. Hong Kong Marine Department has issued Information Note to draw the attention of the shipowners, ship managers, ship operators, masters, officers andcrew on the lessons learnt in the accident.
The accident happened on board a Hong Kong registered vessel in an outbound voyagedeparting from the discharge port after the disembarkation of the ship pilot. It was dark at night,northwesterly wind at Beaufort scale six was blowing with moderate swells of about three metersin length. The ambient air temperature was 8oC.
The Bosun, Deck Cadet (DC) and two Ordinary Seamen (OS) were engaged inrecovering of the combined accommodation and pilot ladders after the pilot disembarked fromthe vessel. The Bosun, who did not put on lifejacket nor life-vest, worked on the lowerplatform of the accommodation ladder disconnecting the latching tool fitted between theaccommodation ladder and the pilot ladder, while the DC and two OS worked together todisconnect the ropes that weaved through the stanchions fixed onto the accommodation ladder.After completion of the aforementioned tasks, it was ready to recover the accommodation ladder.
As ordered by the Bosun, the DC started to operate the air motor of the winch to heaveup the accommodation ladder, but it moved downward instead. The heaving operation wasstopped and was tried again twice by the DC under Bosun’s instructions, but the accommodationladder still moved downward due to the wrong connection of the air hoses to the air motor thatwas detected in the investigation after the accident. Although the operation had been stopped,the accommodation ladder was subsequently found hanging vertically and produced a bangingnoise with the Bosun disappeared. The search and rescue operations were activatedimmediately. Unfortunately, the body of the Bosun was found many days later and wascertified dead.
The investigation revealed the main contributing factors to the accident were:
a) the Bosun did not follow company’s safety procedures for unrigging of theaccommodation ladder in that he should not work on the ladder when it wasbeing operated and he should put on life vest or lifejacket when working over theshipside;
b) the maintenance instructions of the accommodation ladder was not followed inwhich a shorter length of steel wire was used in the davit winch in question andone end of the steel wire was not properly anchored to the wire drum; and
c) the two air hoses connecting the air motor and the control station could bewrongly connected, thus causing a reversal on the movement of theaccommodation ladder (i.e. heaving instead of lowering, or vice versa).
To avoid recurrence of similar accident, it is important that:
a) company safety procedures for working over shipside should be strictly followedby crew members;
b) manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for the accommodation ladder davitwinch should be complied with; and
c) the design of the connection of the rubber air hoses between the air motor andthe control station should ensure that incorrect connections would not bepossible.
The attention of shipowners, ship managers, ship operators, masters, officers and crewis drawn to the lesson learnt above.