(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has raised 1530 reports of marine accidents and commenced 22 investigations in year 2021.
The MAIB received no reports of fatal accidents to seafarers on UK registered merchant vessels of 100gt or more during the year but did commence investigations into fatalities on two Red Ensign Group vessels and one fatality on a Cyprus registered vessel operating in UK waters. From these investigations two themes emerge: the first is that mooring deck fatalities as a result of snap-back continue to occur, despite well published guidance on the hazard; the second is that marshalling vehicles on roll-on/roll-of vessels remains extremely hazardous. More worrying is that there is a clear gap between ‘work as imagined’ and ‘work as done’, with marshallers frequently standing in unsafe areas and drivers losing sight of marshallers.
The branch commenced two investigations during the year that deserve comment due to their unusual nature.
The first is the investigation into the tragic deaths, on 30 October, of four stand-up paddleboarders while attempting to cross a weir at Haverfordwest on the River Cleddau. The sheer enormity of this tragedy selected it for attention and, inevitably, lots of safety lessons emerged as the layers were peeled away. It will be a few months before the report is published, but engagement with stakeholders has so far been excellent and I am hopeful that many safety improvements will be in place before the main UK holiday season.
The second, commenced in January this year, is the investigation into the emergency response to the presumed sinking of a boat of migrants while attempting to cross the English Channel on 24 November. At least 27 migrants perished in that accident. While the MAIB’s investigation report is unlikely to be read by the trafickers, the investigation is identifying safety learning that will be of future benefit if interventions continue to be necessary to save life when migrant boats are attempting the crossing.
The MAIB made 35 recommendations to 23 separate addressees in 2021, of which 77.1% were either accepted and implemented or accepted, yet to be implemented. Three recommendations were rejected for reasons as set out in the report and there has been no response received to five recommendations made to overseas companies. While the acceptance rate is down on the high level of acceptance achieved in 2020 (>90%), it nonetheless validates our process of whenever possible involving stakeholders in the formulation of recommendations during the final stages of an investigation.
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