The Incident

During early morning hours, with clear sky and light winds, the vessel was approaching the berth. Both mooring teams had prepared all the mooring ropes. Taking their places, the Bosun and two AB’s were on the forecastle and the 2nd Officer and two AB’s were on the poop deck. The Master, Pilot and Chief Officer were on the bridge.

Two tug boats, one forward and one aft assisted the vessel to slowly approach the berth.

One of the AB’s threw a heaving line ashore and then let out the spring lines. The two line handlers put the two springs on the bollard. Following, the AB informed to the line handler that he was throwing the heaving line for the head lines.

The line handler replied, shouting, that he was ready, and the AB threw the heaving line; However, the monkey fist hit the line handler on the head. Although the latter was wearing a helmet - in line with safety measures - because of the force of the heaving line, the helmet was knocked off and the line handler fell on the ground.

The pilot, watching from the bridge, called for an ambulance.

In sight of the event, the rest of the crew halted the mooring operations and provided first aid to the injured line handler. 20 minutes later, the injured crew was transmitted to the hospital after an ambulance arrived and the vessel was berthed.

Probable Cause

About two hours later, the police boarded the vessel and interrogated the crew. They resulted to the fact that the monkey fist had extra weight added.

The vessel was not arrested, and the injured line handler recovered after two weeks.

The line handler’s helmet probably saved him from serious injury

... Swedish Club commented.

Although it is of a great importance to have extra weight in the monkey's fist, as bolts or shackles, there is always a possibility that people can be fatally injured.

The Club recommends that the crew should always be in line with the instructions from their flag state, port state and ideally what is stated in the COSWP (Code Of Safe Working Practices);

To prevent personal injury to those receiving heaving lines, the ‘monkey’s fist’ should be made with rope only and must not contain added weighting material. Safe alternatives include a small high-visibility soft pouch, filled with fastdraining pea shingle or similar, with a weight of not more than 0.5 kg. Under no circumstances is a line to be weighted by items such as shackles, bolts or nuts, or twist locks.

See also:

  1. November's monthly safety scenario: Poor maintenance results to engine room flooding.
  2. October's monthly safety scenario: AB severely injured during mooring lines operation.