Safety Bulletins

Crewmember Injured In Freefall Lifeboat Accident – Incident Report

A British crewmember of a Maltese-flagged geared bulk carrier was seriously injured earlier this month after the ship’s freefall lifeboat was unintentionally released with the man inside, according to an incident report released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

The report states that on 1 March 2014, the 190-meter MV Aquarosa was on a voyage from Singapore to Kwinana, Western Australia, when its freefall lifeboat was inadvertently released during a routine inspection, taking the ship’s second engineer who was inside the lifeboat with it.

The ATSB’s initial analysis of the incident indicates that the lifeboat release mechanism was not fully and correctly reset after it was last exercised and that the hook was released when the second engineer topped up the release system hydraulic oil reservoir and manually operated the pump to pressurize the system. It was when he manually pressurized the system that the second engineer felt the boat shudder and move before noticing that the boat had begun to slide down the launching rails.

The analysis also indicated that the two simulation wires, which were designed to hold the lifeboat when the hook was released during a simulated release, failed at a load significantly below their rated safe working load, which allowed the boat to be launched from the stern of the ship.

The lifeboat was retrieved on board the ship about 5 hours after its release and the ship resumed its voyage to Kwinana.

On 6 March, the MV Aquarosa anchored off Fremantle, Western Australia, where it was boarded by an ATSB investigators. Two days later, the second engineer was transferred ashore for medical assessment and treatment where he was found to have a fractured kneecap.

The full report can be found at the ATSB website.