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Mooring line failure resulting in serious injury

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch has published a safety bulletin on an incident in which the failure of a mooring line resulted in a deck officer suffering serious head injuries. He was struck by a mooring line that parted during berthing operations. The injured officer, who was in charge of the vessel’s forward mooring party, was airlifted to a specialist head injuries trauma unit for emergency surgery.

The vessel had been declared all fast alongside about forty minutes prior to the incident and the attending tugs were let go. The vessel subsequently moved out of position in the gusty wind conditions during which time the mooring teams were fitting chafing guards to the lines. As the tugs had already been released, the master instructed the officer in charge of the forward mooring party to tension the forward spring lines to warp the vessel back into the correct position. The officer in charge positioned himself aft of the forward springs’ port-shoulder roller fairlead, and positioned a second crewman forward of him in order to relay his orders to the winch operator. As the winch operator attempted to heave in on the springs, the winch repeatedly stalled and slipped under load.

After about ten minutes, one of the spring lines began to rattle and creak, and then suddenly parted. The section of the line between the break and the port-shoulder roller fairlead struck the officer in charge on his head as it whipped back before going overboard through the fairlead.

Following the accident, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) commissioned a series of tests and trials designed to measure the elongation and snap-back characteristics of the mooring lines used on board the vessel in question. Some short video clips of these trials are available with an accompanying voice over – see

For the full report,

Members may wish to review the following similar incidents (search phrase: snap-back):

Safety Event

Published: 10 August 2015
Download: IMCA SF 11/15

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