According to a report published in the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, on 22 May 2017, the second officer on the bulk carrier Nord Quebec was fatally injured during a mooring accident while the vessel was berthing at section 16 of the Port of Trois-Rivières, Quebec. There was no damage to the vessel, and no pollution was reported.
Summary of the incident
On 17 May 2017, the Nord Quebec departed in ballast condition from Port Alfred, Quebec, and proceeded to the anchorage off Trois-Rivières, Quebec, to undergo a grain pre-loading inspection.
On 22 May at 13:42, a pilot and 2 apprentices from the Corporation des pilotes du Saint-Laurent central had boarded the Nord Quebec and arrived on the navigation bridge to berth the vessel port side to the jetty at section 16 of the Port of Trois-Rivières. The docking maneuver and mooring plan were discussed and agreed upon during a formal master/pilot exchange. At 14:00, the tugs Ocean Bravo and Ocean Charlie were made fast at the starboard shoulder and quarter of the vessel, and the anchor was weighed at 14:02. At that time, the bridge team consisted of the pilot, the 2 apprentices, the master, the chief officer, and 1 helmsman.
Nord Quebec alongside section 16 of Port of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, showing mooring configuration on the forecastle deck and location of fairleads and forward spring lines the following the occurrence
The Nord Quebec left the anchorage zone and proceeded upstream at an average speed of 1.6 knots. At 14:36, the pilot ordered a starboard alteration to enter the basin of sections 14, 15, and 16. While the third officer was in charge of the aft mooring station, the second officer was in charge of the forward mooring station, with the assistance of the bosun operating the windlass controls, and 1 ordinary seaman and 1 able seafarer deck handling the mooring lines on the forecastle deck. The second officer, third officer, bosun, and master communicated using portable very high frequency (VHF) radiotelephones.
At 15:00, the vessel was in the final approach and parallel to the berth of section 16; the vessel’s speed was further reduced to 0.5 knots and the 2 tugs were ordered to push against the vessel’s hull. At 15:02, the master ordered the forward mooring party to deploy the 2 spring lines. Given the size of the Nord Quebec and the restricted manoeuvering space in the basin, the bridge team decided to use 2 forward spring lines for safety and redundancy. A team of 4 linesmen was on the dock to handle the forward mooring lines and put them on the bollards, as tasked by the pilot via VHF radiotelephone. At 15:05, the first spring line was put ashore and a second spring line was subsequently set on the same dock bollard. Both spring lines were winched by the vessel’s port mooring unit, on the inner and outer drums, and were passed through different fairleads on the port bow.
The investigation found that the second officer of the Nord Quebec was fatally injured by one of the 2 spring lines that had been caught under one of the dock’s rubber fenders and released during the mooring of the vessel in section 16 of the Port of Trois-Rivières. Factors leading to the accident The Nord Quebec was berthing at section 16 of the Port of Trois-Rivières in ballast condition with the assistance of 2 harbor tugs. The second officer was the officer in charge of supervising the forward mooring of the vessel with 3 other crew members, which was sufficient for the intended task. The second officer was not fatigued and had the required qualifications and experience for the intended task. As well, the required pre-berthing risk assessment and toolbox meeting had been conducted with the crew involved.
The berthing and mooring plan had been discussed and agreed upon by the master and the pilot. The plan for mooring the vessel was not uncommon and followed standard seamanship practices: the 2 spring lines were the first lines sent ashore but were initially kept loose because the vessel was making way at a low speed toward the required position relative to the dock’s cargo loading gear. When the pilot determined that the vessel was in position, its residual forward motion had to be stopped. While the 2 tugs maintained the vessel alongside the dock, the spring lines were tensioned to stop the vessel. There was no room between the vessel’s hull and the dock fenders for the spring lines to straighten between the vessel’s fairleads and the dock’s bollard.
Consequently, the 2 spring lines became caught under one of the dock’s rubber fenders. As the crew worked to free the 2 spring lines, the second officer leaned over the vessel handrail to visually assess their status, bringing his upper body into the snap-back zone. Although the second officer backed away from the snap-back zone following a verbal warning of the hazard from one of the linesmen, the second officer leaned over the handrail again shortly thereafter. The investigation could not determine why the second officer entered the snap-back zone again.
As the vessel’s hull moved away from the rubber fender and the spring lines were freed, the energy stored in their synthetic fibers caused them to snap upward in a slingshot motion along with the Nord Quebec’s side shell plating. The first spring line went above the main deck handrail, fatally injuring the second officer.
Findings from the incident
- While the Nord Quebec was mooring at section 16 of the Port of Trois-Rivières with the assistance of 2 tugs, the vessel’s 2 spring lines became caught under one of the dock’s rubber fenders.
- The second officer leaned over the vessel handrail to visually assess the status of the caught lines, bringing his upper body into the snap-back zone of the spring lines.
- Although the second officer moved out of the snap-back zone following a verbal warning of the hazard from one of the linesmen, the second officer leaned over the vessel handrail again shortly thereafter.
- As the vessel’s hull moved away from the rubber fender and the spring lines were freed, the energy stored in their synthetic fibers caused them to snap upward in a slingshot motion along with the Nord Quebec’s side shell plating.
- The first spring line went above the main deck handrail, fatally injuring the second officer.
- The access gates to the Port of Trois-Rivières are periodically unattended at night when the routine security patrols take place, potentially delaying emergency first responders from being able to access the facilities and vessels during those times.
- The address in the 911 dispatch database for the Port of Trois-Rivières was actually for a location 2 km away from the port entrance gates.
Safety actions undertaken
- The statistics showed multiple mooring related marine casualties, which occurred both in Canada and abroad, demonstrating the international profile of the safety issues related to mooring operations onboard merchant vessels.
- The TSB invited TC, as Canada’s State Representative to IMO, to bring the information to the IMO’s Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC), as the latter had been tasked with proposing changes to Chapter II-1, Part A-1, Regulation 3-8 (Towing and mooring equipment) of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS), revising the guidelines MSC.1/Circ.1175 (Guidance on shipboard towing and mooring equipment), and drafting new guidelines for safe mooring operations for all ships.
- Transport Canada – The Canadian delegation prioritized participating in the Working Group (WG) for safe mooring operations, along with 25 other IMO Member States and 13 non-governmental organizations. Subsequently, TC shared with the TSB a summary of the WG’s recent activities.
- Noticeably, the SDC Sub-committee finalized the amendments to Regulation II-1/3-8 of SOLAS. Meanwhile, the WG developed the revised guidelines MSC.1/Circ.1175 and new draft guidelines on the inspection and maintenance of mooring equipment, on the design of mooring arrangements, and on the selection of appropriate mooring equipment and fittings for safe mooring.
- Furthermore, TC plans to participate in an intersession Correspondence Group to further develop these guidelines, to consider the consequential amendments to other relevant IMO instruments, and to attend the 6th session of the SDC Sub-committee in 2019.
- Dampskibsselskabet Norden A/S immediately sent a safety information letter to all its vessels, and a formal safety bulletin was distributed to the fleet soon after.
- A company safety campaign focusing on risk assessment, including preparing and implementing a mooring operation risk assessment, was carried out, and this particular occurrence was discussed during the company’s 2017 annual officers’ seminar.
- Additionally, the company’s onboard computer-based training program now includes a specific chapter on the mooring.
- Following the occurrence, the Singapore Transport Safety Investigation Bureau issued a safety flyer for the industry, highlighting the presumed causes for this occurrence and advising the industry to note the risk of serious injuries caused by mooring ropes, even without those ropes failing when put under strain.
- Administration portuaire de Trois-Rivières The Trois-Rivières Port Authority had the address for the main entrance gate to its facilities, 132 de la Commune Street, added to the 911 dispatch database for paramedic services and the fire brigade.
Did you subscribe to our daily newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe!