Skip to content

Inappropriate use of pneumatic line thrower for mooring line

What happened

During mooring operations crew on a vessel used a pneumatic line thrower (PLT) to throw a mooring line.  Several attempts were made, of which one was successful.  Two of the “bullets” disappeared and a window was broken at a warehouse building, approximately 100 meters from the vessel.

What went wrong?

  • There was no toolbox talk before the mooring operation;
  • There was a change of plan during the mooring operation: it  proved impossible to get a heaving line to the quayside and so a PLT was used, which was not a part of mooring equipment;
  • The PLT was not used according to manufacturers instructions or recommendations;
  • The use of the PLT was not covered in the existing risk assessment for mooring operations;
  • There was inadequate communication with the mooring team onshore;
  • No-one stopped the job; no-one thought through or assessed the potential risks of using the PLT.

What lessons were learnt?

  • Pneumatic line throwers ought not be used during mooring operation alongside quay, due to  the increased risk to people and property;
  • Develop a solution to get a heaving line ashore from vessels with a covered forecastle, without using a PLT;
  • Ensure changed plans are managed using a Management of Change process; ensure appropriate risk assessment and toolbox talks are carried out before mooring operation;
  • Reiterate duty to stop the job and intervene if unsafe work is taking place.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 23 February 2021
Download: IMCA SF 06/21

Relevant life-saving rules:
IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.