Beware! Even a Twist Lock from a Container Can Hurt You




The container vessel was berthed port side alongside at an Asian port and the cargo operation had started shortly after arrival.

The weather was good, clear and calm. The Chief Officer was in charge of the cargo operation.

The loading plan was presented to the Chief Officer by the terminal supervisor and two gantry cranes were planned to assist. The chief officer presented the lashing plan to the terminal supervisor.

During the operation, stevedores working at the front and end of the container fitted twist locks to the container’s corners before it was loaded onboard the vessel. The twist locks automatically locked onto the container below.

Onboard the vessel two stevedores were attaching lashings to containers and were standing underneath the containers as they were being loaded. The 2nd and 3rd officers heard a scream and could see a stevedore lying on one of the hatch covers.

How was it handled?

They quickly gave the injured stevedore first aid and raised the alarm. The 2nd officer ran to the ship’s hospital and picked up a stretcher and the master informed the terminal about the accident. The stevedore was conscious and had a gash on his head. Lying close to him was a twist lock and his safety helmet which was not broken but had scratch marks on it. About ten minutes later the terminal’s own emergency response team arrived and gave the stevedore first aid while waiting for an ambulance. The stevedore was taken to hospital.

Initial investigation report

A missing twist lock could be seen from the container from where the stevedores stood


The twist lock had dropped from a height of about eight meters.


The twist lock had not been properly fitted by the stevedores working shoreside. This caused the twist lock to dislodge from its corner fitting and fall on the stevedore.

Please Share your comments, suggestions and experiences with on the following topics:

  • What is the duty officer supposed to do if crew or stevedores are standing under moving cargo?
  • What are the procedures during a cargo operation and when standing close to moving cargo?
  • Does the Chief Officer discuss the cargo operation with the stevedores before the operation begins?

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  1. The attached picture does not dovetail with the article. Picture shows BASE manual t’lock with a handle ,which is operated manually and this particular t’lock is not operated by stevedores on shore but on board . Likewise it is not attached to loaded container on shore by stevedores. Under normal conditions it stays in hatch cover t’lock foundation.

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