Fatality – Crew member caught between hulls during manoeuvre to moor alongside

The incident occurred in the Royal Portbury Dock, Bristol Port, UK, during a manoeuvre involving two Svitzer tugs – The Svitzer Moira and Svitzer Ellerby. No other vessels were involved.

On 29th Dec 2015, one of our tugs (Svitzer Moira) was scheduled to do a towing operation. Before the operation started the Port Authorities asked Svitzer to shift an unmanned tug (Svitzer Ellerby) to a different berth. The crew joined the Svitzer Moira, started up the tug and moved it to be positioned alongside the Svitzer Ellerby.

Whilst mooring the Svitzer Moira alongside the Svitzer Ellerby, a crew member was caught between the rubbing strake D fendering of the two tugs. The Emergency Services were called immediately. Despite their efforts the crew member could not be revived and unfortunately was pronounced dead on site.

Preliminary findings and possible causes:

We are currently awaiting the completion of the official investigation in order to understand the circumstances of how the crew member was caught in this position.

Immediate preventive actions:

Whilst the root cause of the incident is still being investigated, all personnel are reminded of the following:

  • When a tug is underway, crew members must always stay inside the tug’s bulwarks until the Master has indicated that the tug is safely alongside the quay or another vessel and that it is safe for the crew member to move outside of the bulwark.
  • Safe access/egress must always be established and confirmed prior to any crewmember moving between vessels or between a vessel and the quayside.
  • Safety Bulletin issued on 2nd January 2016.