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Rope under tension parted on deck

What happened

A wire rope parted under tension and struck someone’s helmet. There was no injury. The incident occurred during preparation for a shore-side pull of an export cable; the cable lay vessel recovered an onshore winch wire. The rigging connection failed resulting in the parted rope striking an operator’s helmet.

The winch wire from the onshore site was connected to the cable lay vessel winch via recovery rigging. The supporting workboat hauled the onshore wire to make the connection with the cable lay vessel wire. When the connection was confirmed, the Shift Supervisor on the cable lay vessel gave the order to pay in and recover the connected winch wires.  The Shift Supervisor, positioned at the top of the chute platform, noticed a polypropylene rope was attached to the rigging which was not part of the approved rigging arrangement.  The polypropylene rope suddenly came under tension, parted, recoiled and struck the Shift Supervisor’s helmet. The helmet shell separated from the inside webbing. No-one was harmed.

What went wrong?

  • Nine persons were on the cable lay vessel deck at the time, all neglecting the ‘Line of Fire’ Life Saving Rule;
  • The crew on the workboat did not follow the company approved rigging arrangement;
  • There was no supervision on the workboat to ensure the approved procedure was followed;
  • There was a language barrier; the workboat crew only had minimal English.


  • Follow the Life-Saving Rules; do not place yourself in the line of fire;
  • Ensure better close collaboration between third-party vessels:
    • Confirm that procedures have been reviewed by crews
    • Ensure they attend Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis (HIRA) meetings
    • Ensure that they are fully familiar with the task plan on site.
  • Ensure adequate levels of supervision for the task in hand;
  • Where appropriate, ensure bilingual documentation is available for key documents and that a translator is available who is familiar with the task.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 15 October 2021
Download: IMCA SF 28/21

Relevant life-saving rules:
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