Maritime Safety: Serious injury during mooring operation


( A new AB onboard is seriously injured during a mooring operation. Lack of communication and no pre-departure briefing were contributing factors to this accident. 

It was early morning and the vessel was preparing to depart. The mooring parties were standing by forward and aft. On the bridge the master had a short briefing with the pilot. There was no pre-departure briefing, so the mooring risk assessment had not been discussed.

The mooring parties had just been woken up by the chief officer and assembled at their designated stations. The chief officer was setting up the bridge for departure and was not involved in the pilot briefing.

Everyone in the mooring parties was wearing the correct PPE equipment, i.e. helmet, safety shoes, coveralls and gloves. One of the ABs in the forward mooring party had just joined the vessel the previous day. He had three years of experience as an AB, but this was his first time working for the company. He had completed the mandatory safety briefing with the 3rd officer the previous day when he joined the vessel.

At departure he was working in front of the mooring winch ensuring that the mooring lines were properly stored on the drum. The vessel was moored with two head lines and stern lines, two brest lines and two spring lines forward and aft.

The master gave the order to single up, which meant that both brest lines, one spring line and one head/stern line were retrieved. The 2nd officer who was forward did not let go any of the head lines. The other lines were retrieved without any incident. When the master was satisfied, he gave the order to “let go all lines”.

When the head lines were slack the new AB hung them on the hook attached to each roller bollard instead of around the roller bollard which was the correct procedure as per the risk assessment. Another AB was operating the mooring winch, but he could not see the new AB who was handling the lines. This was because the winch was too large.

The 2nd officer had difficulty seeing the most forward head line and assumed it was clear because the forward line handler had moved away from the bollard and seemed to be talking on his radio. The 2nd officer gave the order to the winch AB to heave in both head lines. The 2nd officer did not pay attention to what the new AB was doing but assumed he was directing the mooring lines.

Unfortunately, the most forward head line was still attached to the bollard. When the AB started to heave up the headline it tightened quickly and came off the bollard hook with a heavy snap which hit the new AB in the waist.

The AB collapsed in serious pain and was taken to hospital where it was discovered that he had suffered serious back injuries. These injuries were so severe that the AB was not able to resume seafaring duties.

Source: The Swedish Club

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  1. Good Morning All

    As a Master Mariner with 50 years experience with the sea can I make the following comments, regarding an accident on vessel whilst departing a berth, the photo at the head of the article shows two very badly trained seafarers, because of the following

    1. You never run a mooring line on to a drum end so that the heaving part leads from underneath the drum end 2. You never ever hold a mooring rope or any other line with weight on it with your hand underneath the rope, you always clutch the rope from the top, this is so if the rope jumps you can let go of it, the way those AB's are holding the rope if it jumps they will get dragged in the drum and if they are really lucky end up with badly broken fingers if unlucky no hands at all 3. Where the rope is being coiled if it jumps even if the AB manages to let go of it they may end up having their leg caught in the bight and be dragged through the drum end thus in worst case losing a leg best case a badly broken one.

    In the interests of safety on board can you please republish the photograph and point out the error of their ways,

    Many Thanks


    Capt Jack Hutchings

    Mob +44 (0)7 931 854220 email