Monday, March 11, 2013

CRY WOLF

Time to change to my nautical hat and write a Post not on Papal Happenings, important as that is to  the Roman Catholic Church Lay Community.


One of the links listed in MY BLOG LIST is a website of a Miami, FL maritime lawyer.  While up to a point it is informative in his anxiety to show up every little thing that goes even slightly wrong on board Cruise Ships he is like the little boy who cried "Wolf".  Since much of the stuff published is of relatively minor importance the major incidents tend to get lost or as one former shipmate said to NAUTICAL LOG over the weekend "more petty nonsense just to make trouble".  Well that is somewhat harsh because from each incident we should learn something and perhaps make seafarers lives if not completely safe at least less dangerous.

NAUTICAL LOG personally does not like the fact that lawyers are allowed to advertise and clearly this lawyer website is the epitome of self-advertisement.  So be it then its allowed!! 

One particular report is tragic because a life was lost and importantly addresses safety issues - lets take a look from a seafarers point of view.  The report is titled "death on NCL's Norwegian Jade" during a mooring operation in a Greek Port a mooring line parted and struck a seaman knocking him overboard, resulting in his body being recovered deceased.  The lawyer states that "the crew member was not fitted with either a harness or a life vest (jacket) nor wearing a hard hat".  The mind boggles at this statement !! 

The latter part of the statement does not seem to be correct because a hard hat was recovered from the water which leads one to believe he was wearing a hard hat.  Work gloves are not addressed and these should be worn by all members of the Mooring Party including the Officer-in-Charge of that Mooring Party. Now as to the items this lawyer does list:

Harness:  NAUTICAL LOG is not quite sure how this would be used working around a mooring deck and since we are trying to make people safe this could be more of a hazard than a help.  Where and how would it be attached.  Our conclusion is that this is lawyers talk for the benefit of a nautically uninformed Jury to develop sympathy for a big award and thus a big fee!!

Lifejacket:  Again NAUTICAL LOG has doubts that this would actually be of assistance in handling mooring lines and could end up being a hazard.  However in fairness there are many designs available and some would not be a hazard so by selection they could be worn.  There are legal issues with IMO and USCG as to types and classification of lifejackets, and the lawyer would jump all over that fact as well for the Jury.

Hard Hat:  One was recovered and so it appears the seaman was wearing one. The lawyer report states this fact.

Now how could such an accident happen that a mooring line parted while berthing a modern ship fitted with twin propellers, bow and possibly stern side thrusters.  The winches which handle these lines are usually self-tension so should slack off before the load on the mooring line is sufficient to part it.  If not designed to slack off automatically it is the duty of the Officer-in-Charge to signal "slack the line".  Good seaman do not try to stop the motion of multi-tonne vessels with mooring lines because all too easily they part - Ahh - one wonders.

The theory of mooring lines is to hold the ship in position once the engines are shut down, therefore using combinations of these engines and thrusters the ship is positioned, once in place the mooring lines are pulled taut and the ship thus secured in place.  If there is a tidal effect at the berth then the mooring lines must be monitored and adjusted by the deck watch during tidal level changes.

It is possible therefore that the mooring line that parted could have been used as a brake to stop the ship and under this extra strain parted in turn causing the death of the seaman.

Good Watch.

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