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Non-fatal man overboard incident

What happened

After completing work, a small mooring (pilot) boat returned to the jetty. The AB began to secure the forward spring line of the mooring boat. The pilot being transferred on the mooring boat attempted to disembark by jumping across the quayside fender before the vessel, missed the fender and fell into the water between the mooring boat and the jetty.

The pilot was uninjured in the fall; his life jacket inflated and he was able to swim to the jetty ladder and climb up to the quayside.

What went wrong?

  • The pilot attempted to disembark the vessel before the vessel was fully and securely moored;
  • He was not wearing a helmet and very nearly hit his head on the jetty in the fall; had this occurred the incident may have resulted in a serious injury;
  • Falling between the vessel and the quayside, he was fortunate not to be crushed;
  • He was lucky: it was noted afterwards that his lifejacket had not been correctly secured; had it slipped off on  impact with the water it would have failed to keep him above water.


  • No one should disembark from any vessel until the vessel is completely alongside and securely moored;
  • For vessels without gangways, a mandatory “buddy system” during personnel transfer was implemented, whereby another crew member on the shore side supports the crew member transferring from the vessel. Life jackets to be secured and correctly fastened before embarking/disembarking;
  • For vessels with gangways, gangways should be securely fastened, and safety nets installed. After installation checks should be conducted to ensure it is secured safely, and the gangway controlled at all times.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 11 March 2022
Download: IMCA SF 06/22

Relevant life-saving rules:
IMCA Safety Flashes
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