Real Life Incident: Experience Doesn’t Always Equal Safe Practice

A vessel was in the process of berthing. The engines and thrusters were still running, and the aft mooring station personnel had just confirmed to the bridge team that the vessel was all fast aft.

Before coming to berth, the side (pilot) door had been opened to facilitate monitoring of the rescue boat, which had been launched and recovered for survey purposes. The door was still open during the berthing manoeuvre but a safety chain was in place to indicate the hazard. The open door was about at the same height as the quayside.

A classification society surveyor, who was on the wharf waiting to board the vessel, removed the chain himself and hopped on board through the door.


Lessons learned

  • Side/pilot doors should be kept closed when not in use.
  • Open side doors that are soon to be used should be attended by ship’s crew trained in their duties. They should be strongly advised to let no one attempt a boarding or disembarkation without a proper gangway in place. A sign should be installed on the safety chain to reinforce the interdiction.
  • Even experienced mariners and surveyors can be tempted to skirt safety rules for the sake of expediency. Never be intimidated by the rank or title of a visitor and stick to your vessel’s procedures.


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