Lesson Learned: Cruise Ship Deckhand Injured By Snagged Mooring Line

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  • A cruise ship was preparing to depart from a Caribbean port when an incident involving a winch and mooring lines occurred, leading to significant injuries for an able seaman (AB).
  • The AB was working on the mooring deck, using a messenger line around a mooring rope to guide it onto a winch drum.
  • Meanwhile, a deckhand operated the winch remotely, but with limited visibility of the AB’s position near the drum.

The messenger line unexpectedly snagged under the mooring rope and wound itself onto the winch drum. Realizing the danger, the AB let go of the messenger line but didn’t notice that it had formed a bight around their right leg. As the bight tightened, the AB was pulled toward the winch drum and dragged over it, sustaining a broken shin bone and other leg injuries. The AB’s screams alerted the winch operator, who promptly stopped the winch. The AB was disentangled and taken ashore for medical treatment.

Lessons Learned

Margin of Safety: It’s vital to exercise caution around moving machinery and maintain a safe distance from rotating equipment. Loose clothing and other objects should be kept clear of equipment to avoid entanglement. In this case, the long messenger line was able to wrap around the AB’s leg, leading to the accident. Staying clear of the winch drum can help prevent similar incidents.

Clear Visibility: When operating equipment remotely, having clear visibility of the people and surroundings involved is essential. While remote control allows operators to move around the deck safely, maintaining a line of sight and effective communication with colleagues can prevent accidents and enable prompt responses to any issues.

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Source: MAIB