Real Life Incident: Mooring Line Accident – Watch Where You Are Standing

A pure car carrier was departing port. After turning clear at the breakwater, the order to let go the aft tug line was given. The officer aft was holding the rope stopper and a crewman was holding the messenger line around the bollard to avoid excessive slacking off when letting go the tug line.

Two other crew members removed the eye of the tug line from the bollard, and then the rope stopper was slowly released. Suddenly, the tug line came under tension and shifted the mooring line, hitting the legs of the officer and sending him to the deck. He injured his back and required an emergency medical evacuation.

morring line accident
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Lessons learned

  • Treat mooring lines with respect; always keep in mind that they can come under extreme tension at a moment’s notice.
  • Even though this was a bad accident, it could have been much worse. Fatalities due to mooring lines are, unfortunately, significant in the marine industry. Past statistics have quantified mooring accidents as the seventh most frequent cause of personal injuries but the third most expensive per claim (UK P&I Club LP News, January 2009).
  • The crew member overseeing the mooring operation should not be involved in manipulating lines, stoppers or winches. Their job is to oversee the operation, keeping a watch for dangerous developing situations.

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