Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Ropes’ end

Posted on | June 22, 2015 | No Comments

Everyone knows about the inadvisability of standing in a bight of mooring rope and the fact that mooring and unmooring, with its huge stresses and tensions on ropes and wires, along with a lot of unguarded machinery is a potentially hazardous evolution. Accident statistics reveal that a depressing number of deaths and injuries occur during this most routine of seafaring tasks. When a rope or wire parts, or someone gets trapped in a winch or capstan, injuries will be generally horribly severe.

It is interesting to see that the IMO has taken the initiative in asking its member states and non-governmental organisations to take a look at the way ships are fastened to the quay and to see if some real innovation might be introduced to reduce the number of mooring accidents. It is a fact that very has little has changed in the way ships are moored, practically since the days of sail, with ropes and wires under tension, a “cat’s cradle” of leads on crowded forecastles and afterdecks leading the ropes and wires from windlass drum ends on the centreline to the fairleads on the ship’s side. Can’t we think of a better way?

It is also significant that the latest Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) Maritime Feedback has warned that the “snap back zones” which are increasingly painted around mooring decks may not be anything like as safe as some people think. Swedish accident investigators, reports CHIRP, have suggested that their alleged safety is not supported by any proper research and could give a false sense of security. Such zones, they suggest, should not be painted for this very reason. It is certainly food for thought, bearing in mind the damage a parted rope can do as it flails around after breaking under tension.

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