MAIB: Poor Stevedoring Practices Led to Fatal Bulker Accident

Image Courtesy: MAIB

Poor stevedoring practices probably contributed to an accident, which took the life of one seafarer, after an unsecured cargo stack collapsed from the bulk carrier Graig Rotterdam in December 2016, UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said.

The accident occurred on December 18, while the UK-registered bulker was discharging a deck cargo of packaged timber at anchor in Alexandria Port, Egypt. Deck cargo was being discharged from the stacks on top of numbers 2 and 3 hatch covers into two barges located on the ship’s starboard side using two of the ship’s cranes.

At 1109, the chief officer saw a partial cargo collapse from the port side of the ship and called the bosun several times on his radio to enquire what had
happened. As there was no response, he called the 3/O and instructed him to go on deck and to see what had happened. The master, who had heard the radio calls, went to the bridge and ordered cargo operations to stop.

The stevedores informed the 3/O that the bosun had been standing on top of the deck cargo stack that had collapsed, and that he had fallen with the cargo. The bosun Qin Zhigang, a Chinese national, fell overboard and into the barge that was secured alongside. Although the ship’s crew provided first-aid following the accident, the bosun later died of his injuries.

MAIB informed that it has not been possible to establish with certainty how the accident occurred, however, the investigation revealed that poor stevedoring practices probably contributed to the collapsing, and no measures were in place to prevent the bosun from falling overboard as a result of the cargo shift.

With the deck cargo lashings removed, the cargo packages had insufficient racking strength to counter the effects of ship movement, cargo repositioning, dunnage displacement, barges securing to deck cargo stacks, and cargo discharge operations over a prolonged period.

Owner and manager of the ship, Graig Ship Management Limited, has taken a number of actions following the incident, which included distributing a feet circular highlighting safety issues identifed from its internal investigation of the accident, as well as a need to agree all tasks with the stevedore foreman before starting cargo operations.

The company’s SMS generic risk assessment entitled ‘Loading and Un-loading of Timber Cargoes’ has been amended to include a hazard of unsafe stevedore working, with a control measure requiring the master to cease operations immediately and to notify the company and charterer.

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