A member has reported an incident in which a crewman was lost overboard. The incident happened during the hours of darkness. A rigger onboard a material barge was assigned to keep a watch on the workboat moored alongside the port stern of the barge. The rigger observed the workboat drifting away from the material barge and panicked. He was approached by a mechanic who was also working on the material barge. The mechanic advised him to wait till he informed his supervisor. As both were not carrying a radio, the mechanic proceeded to the construction barge to contact his supervisor. Meanwhile the rigger decided to enter the water from the tow tug moored along the port side of material barge in order to attempt to recover the drifting boat. Before doing so, the rigger removed his personal protective equipment (PPE) and work vest on the main deck of the tow tug.
He disappeared shortly after entering the water, and in spite of extensive search and rescue operations over a wide area, involving Fast Rescue Craft, tug boats and helicopters, could not be found and is presumed dead.
Our member took the following actions to prevent recurrence of this tragic incident:
- Ensure deployed workboats are crewed by a minimum of two persons or retrieved back onto deck. If this is not practical, ensure workboat is properly secured;
- Ensure personnel deployed on material barges and remote sites carry a radio at all times;
- Deck watch and gangway watch with access to radio to be maintained at all times;
- Ensure life rings are available on material barges and being used in a man overboard situation;
- The existing ‘buddy system’ to be reinforced to prevent lone working on material barges and/or remote areas;
- Review MOB procedures and ensure crew are fully familiar with it;
- Ensure crew are aware that entering the water overboard the vessels/structure is strictly prohibited unless there is a life threatening situation.