S3/2007M Hatch crane safety
A hatch crane accident took place on m/s Singeldiep in Kotka port, Finland, on 11 January 2006, when the hatch covers of the vessel sailing under the flag of the Netherlands Antilles were to be opened as loading restarted. The second mate and the AB of the ship had opened the hatch covers together and the mate drove the crane meant to lift and move hatch covers on top of hatch No. 1, closest to the bow. The AB thought that the mate would leave the crane there. The mate, however, started to move the hatch cover alone and he was lifting the cover when it came loose and fell into the cargo hold. When falling, the hatch cover pulled the crane from its rails and the other end of the crane collapsed over the hatch edge into the cargo hold. The mate, who had been in the driver’s place on top of the crane, fell a distance of c. 5 metres on paper rolls and was seriously injured. The victim died from his injuries at the hospital. The investigation was completed on 15 November 2006. The investigation report MS SINGELDIEP, fatal accident in Kotka port on 11.1 2006 is available on AIBF’s web page.
Less than a year later another hatch crane accident took place on 10 august 2007 when a cargo vessel Grachtborg experienced a failure with the hatch crane. The crane together with a hatch cover toppled over into the hold damaging a stevedore’s tractor. The first mate was badly injured but survived the accident. This type of accident occurred already eight times in the past seven years, injuring six seafarers severely and unfortunately was the cause of death for three among them. The investigation report concerning the Grachtborg’s accident is appended to this safety study.
At the investigations by the Commission at the Netherlands Antilles and the Maritime Board of Inquiry at the Netherlands into the causes of the accidents several lessons to be learned were reported. Despite these inquiries the accidents are still happening.
Within the scope of learning from incidents and accidents on board ships on which the ISM code is based as well, it is remarkable that owners and interested parties are not able to prevent further accidents with these cranes. As it is still a high risk operation which can result into fatal injuries, a thematic study had been started to alert the maritime industry as a whole and the Dutch and Dutch Antilles in particular.
As the latest incident on board the Grachtborg, which happened in the Finnish port of Kokkola, was the third one in a Finnish port, the Finnish authorities were able to lead an investigation into the particular incident and the following safety study. Due to lack of knowledge of the Dutch language, the Dutch Safety Board was invited to have one of the senior investigators be part of the investigation team.
With additional knowledge of the Transport and Water Management Inspectorate, the Directorate of Shipping at the Netherlands Antilles and full co-operation of the Netherlands based manufacturer of the hatch cranes, Coops-Nieborg and the Dutch Ship Owner Association all aspects could be investigated.