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LTI: Damage and personal injury arising from heavy weather

What happened

On a vessel waiting on weather, a weathertight door in the crane pedestal from the main deck to the crane room was forced open by a large wave coming from a different direction than the prevailing wind and sea. During operations to close the weathertight door, a vessel crew member was hit by water gushing through the door, and was washed down two flights of stairs within the crane pedestal, causing serious injuries.

The crew member was taken into the vessel hospital to be assessed by the medical team offshore in communication with the onshore medical advisory service. The vessel sailed into port for assessment by the hospital and thereafter the crew member was airlifted to another hospital for specialist trauma support as an additional precaution.


What went right

  • There had been a Heavy Weather Checklist completed beforehand, as per company requirements;
  • The crew members involved in the operation made use of the internal engine room access to the winch room in order to avoid the associated hazards of being on deck in stormy weather;
  • Shore-based management and the client were notified in good time after the event and correspondence maintained throughout;
  • Management of the injured person was well-coordinated between vessel and onshore and handled in a timely way.

What went wrong

  • This was a rogue wave, not consistent with the general wave pattern;
  • The seas were 10-11m at the time and the distance from the waterline to the top of ships bulwark (railing) was approximately 3.1m;
  • The existing weathertight door had not been installed in the optimal direction.

What was the cause

The design of the weathertight door was such that it opened forward rather than aft. Typically, waves can be expected from the bows of the vessel. The force of seas impacting on the door forced it open rather than closed.


  • Redesign the positioning of the weathertight door: If the hinges were mounted on the opposite side then the force acting on the door would close it instead of forcing open. Thus the door opening should be sheltered from the ingress of water on deck;
  • Vessel crew to continue to maintain good situational awareness of any change in weather conditions.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 27 February 2024
Download: IMCA SF 05/24

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