Skip to content

Plough recovery incident

An incident was recently reported to us which occurred during the recovery of a plough whilst cable laying.

The emergency plough recovery system used incorporated an Emergency Life Line (ELL). When the ELL became puckered on the stern chute during recovery a webbing strop was employed to aid its recovery, attached via a tugger winch. Unfortunately the ELL became snagged on the rudder and as it came free of the rudder it was sucked into the thruster, which in turn caused the weight to go onto the webbing strop/tugger winch wire which parted at the webbing strop. The wire on the tugger and ELL winch snatched violently inboard, injuring two men who were on the aft deck.

The contractor involved has made a number of recommendations to avoid repetition of such an incident. These include the following:

  • The vessel is now fitted with a high tension slowdown facility which can be used whilst on DP
  • The ELL, originally provided as an added security feature should the tow wire part, can cause excessive slack below the waterline at the stern end and therefore runs the risk of being sucked into the thruster and is to be replaced
  • All lifting equipment is to be colour-coded. The incident investigation revealed that the webbing strop had never been certified or inspected during its time onboard

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.