202062 Safety under pressure

30 Oct 2020 MARS 2020

A suezmax came alongside a docked VLCC to carry out a STS operation. While the hoses were being connected, a supporting rope on one of the four fenders broke. The Safety Inspector was informed, and immediately carried out a visual inspection together with vessel’s staff. The vessel requested to suspend operations in order to evaluate the situation; the terminal suggested that they should continue with making hose connections as the situation was under control.

As the hose connections were being completed a second supporting rope broke. This was rectified and cargo transfer operations took place without further incident.

The investigation found that the supporting ropes for the fenders were in doubtful condition.

Lessons learned

  • In this case the terminal wanted to continue operations even though there had been signs that all was not right. The failure of the first fender rope was a first warning and the second failure a definitive demonstration of less than ideal safety.
  • Sooner or later in our career we all are pressured to make do with a situation even though signs are evident that safety is not respected. Resist these pressures and always side with safety.