Near-miss: Cargo shifted in heavy seas whilst alongside platform

A member has reported an incident in which there was an unplanned movement of freight containers on a platform supply vessel. The incident occurred during rough weather whilst the vessel was engaged in deck cargo and fuel transfer alongside a platform. The vessel, which was positioned down-wind and with starboard stern quarter to weather, was hit by a sudden and unexpected squall. The vessel was designed with a low bulwark.

The weather and sea conditions at the time of the incident were wind 25 knots, swell 3m. One larger squall wave hit the stern and flooded the back deck. The water shifted one container and overturned another. The back-loaded containers had not yet been secured due to on-going back-loading.

There were no injuries, no spills, and no external damage to the containers.

Our member noted that this near miss incident was potentially very serious, and the incident has been treated as a potential fatality. The following lessons were learnt:

  • The risk of abnormal waves should be taken into consideration in risk assessment and tool box talks for work, particularly when the vessel is positioned stern to weather;
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on the ‘stop work policy’ – anyone should be able to stop the job, any time, when in doubt;
  • A new and higher bulwark will be fitted to this and similar vessels working in these waters.