Skip to content

Positive: vessel improvements made following a man overboard incident

Following a non-fatal man overboard incident involving a member of a mooring gang falling off a tug, as part of the incident investigation, a thorough review was conducted to identify how crew transfer over vessel bow areas could be improved.

Bow fendering enhancements
Photo showing obstruction free bow
Modified bow

Immediately post-incident, removable hand rails were installed in the bow area, provided with enhanced grip points for transferring personnel.  It was identified that still further improvement could be made in this area.  As well as the physical enhancements, customised HSE refresher training was provided to the personnel on:

  • the importance of ‘three-point contact’ whilst transferring;
  • the use of personal floatation devices and,
  • the buddy system of giving your fellow team members mber behind you the required support and help during transfer.

The tug involved went to dry dock shortly after, and it was decided to remodel the bow area to provide an obstruction free bow embarkation/disembarkation platform at bulwark top height, with vastly increased landing area to the original vessel design with additional stringers and stanchions added. Bow fendering enhancements were also made during this modification with heavy duty 500mm ‘D’ fender installed around the radius of the new platform for enhanced asset protection.

Since the photos above were taken the landing area and the step-up platform have also been coated with yellow/black hazard marking stripes.

Positive Findings:

  • The modifications completed have provided far greater safety and security for crew during personnel transfer operations over the bow;
  • There was excellent cooperation between the technical, HSE and marine departments in working to reduce the risk;
  • The team did not settle for average and explored every possibility to increase the safety for the mooring gangs.

Our member will be suitably modifying all their similar tugs in the same fashion as they dock over the coming 12-18 months.

Members may wish to reflect on the importance and value of these excellent improvements by looking at the following:

Safety Event

Published: 19 January 2021
Download: IMCA SF 03/21

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.