A container ship,
flag - Indian, age approx 16 years, GRT - 11892. sailed out from an Indian
port for another Indian port on 01.8.2008. The length of the voyage was
only 18 hours. The vessel arrived at the outer anchorage of destined port
on 02.8.2008 at 1354 hrs. The ship's crew was engaged in lowering the
starboard life boat at 1400 hrs. just few minutes after anchoring of the
ship under the supervision of the Master and additional 2nd
officer. This operation was accomplished successfully. The senior officer
along with Able Bodied (A.B.) seaman, fitter and two numbers of ratings
entered the boat at 1410 hrs. The boat was lowered to water level and made
water borne. After completion of this exercise, the boat was re-hooked for
hoisting at 1445 hrs. While the boat was being hoisted and reached almost
at the level of boat deck, it slipped off from the hook and fell into the
water from height little below the boat deck level. During the said
operations, 5 persons were in the life boat. They sustained injuries and
were sent ashore for medical treatment. The starboard life boat also was
extensively damaged and landed ashore for permanent repairs. The vessel
obtained dispensation from the Flag Administration to undertake the
intended voyage without this life boat. However, the shipowner placed 3
No. additional life rafts in lieu of damaged starboard life boat.
with drill schedule for year 2008, the starboard life boat was not
required to be lowered.
There was no
berthing prospect announced by the port for the vessel for 02.8.2008
(i.e. the day the vessel anchored).
The Drill was
arranged in a great hurry immediately after the anchoring of vessel.
officer though a part of the Muster list did not participate in the boat
officer, AB and Junior officer who sustained injury were not part of the
required team in accordance with the Muster list.
The drill was not
conducted in a systematic manner as emergency alarm to alert the crew on
the emergency situation was not sounded.
The hoisting and
lowering operation was done with frequent stoppages allowing the slack
on the boat wire fall to develop. Perhaps the frequent jerking movements
dislodged the life boat from the hooks.
circumstantial evidences show that nothing other than human error
attributed to this casualty.. A fatigue and incompetence on part of the
operating crew was one of the few elements, which caused damaged to the
life boat and injuries to the crew in the boat.
The SOLAS 1974
Regulation 20.6.3 chapter III and Flag State
Casualty Circular No. 9 of 2005 relating to launching
of life boat without any person should be strictly complied with by the
principles of observance of good seamanship by all crew members during
such operations should be strictly adhere to.
Launching of life
boat is considered not only key ship board operations but also critical
in nature. Therefore, the Master and other senior officers have an
obligation to exercise extra ordinary skill and duty to care for the
crew involved in this operations.
Person Ashore (DPA) and the Master should make sure that the statutory
training manual encompasses detailed procedure for such type of
The Master of the
vessel should comply strictly with the Planned Maintenance Schedule
(PMS) for the life boats/ its launching appliances.
Officer of ship should provide effective training to the crew and ensure
that all members participate in the scheduled boat drill as specified in
the ship's Muster list.
(Capt. Deepak Kapoor)
Nautical Surveyor-cum-DDG (Tech)