Bolts Holding Mooring Ropes Sheared Off Resulting in Fatality


Transport Malta has issued safety investigation report into the mooring equipment failure and subsequent fatality of a shipyard worker on board the Cyprus registered ro-ro passenger GALAXY in Valletta, Malta on 18 January 2016.

The incident

MV Galaxy alongside in the Shipyard

On 09 December 2015, MV Galaxy arrived in Malta under tow on a single, ballast, unmanned voyage from Piraeus, Greece to the Shipyard. Repairs commenced soon after, with the vessel afloat. On 08 January 2016, she was transferred to graving dock no. 4 for underwater hull inspections and repairs. She was subsequently re-floated and pulled out of the dry-dock on the morning of 18 January 2016 at around 0900 to continue repairs afloat alongside Boat House Wharf.

Open button-roller chock and pedestal fairleads on the aft mooring deck

During the berthing operation, after the move out of the dry-dock, a roller from the pedestal fairlead at the aft mooring station became detached and flew off over the shipside and overboard. In its trajectory, the roller head hit the Shipyard’s Assistant Repair Manager who was consequently fatally injured.

The Marine Safety Investigation Unit (MSIU) conducted a safety investigation into the occurrence.

Temporary railing and grit on the aft mooring deck


The immediate cause of the accident was the failure of the two 10 mm bolts holding the roller-keep in place, which sheared off under the tension generated by the mooring ropes.

The safety investigation concluded that tremendous tensile forces in the mooring ropes caused the spring to become very tight and create an upward component of the force acting on the stern rope passing over it and around the lower pedestal fairlead.

Overhang distance at the forward part of the vessel

The upward component of the force was created by the difference in heights of the pedestal fairleads and the way the ropes were positioned; with the rope on the higher pedestal fairlead crossing under the mooring rope on the lower pedestal fairlead.

No formal risk assessments and detailed ‘toolbox’ talks were carried out prior to the ship’s mooring operation. No briefing on the handling of mooring ropes was provided and the dangers associated with mooring stations were not discussed. None of the seven Shipyard personnel present at the mooring stations on board Galaxy had any training in mooring operations.

Reproduction of the rope arrangement at the time of the accident (photo taken after the accident)


Other rollers at the aft mooring station

In view of the conclusions reached and taking into consideration the safety actions taken during the course of the safety investigation,

Moby S.p.A. is recommended to:

  • Ensure that it addresses the safety-critical periods of dry-docking, irrespective of the validity of Statutory certificates.

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Source: Transport Malta


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