A MAN injured on a LNG tanker berthing in gusty winds at South Hook LNG in 2015 was lucky to survive according to a detailed report into the incident by the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch).

In March 2015 a 26-year-old Officer in Charge on the Shell owned Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Q-class tanker the Zarga, sailing from Qatar, suffered serious head injuries when a mooring rope snapped and struck him.

The deck officer was airlifted to a specialist head injuries trauma unit for emergency major surgery and spent several weeks in hospital before being repatriated to his home in India, where he received further medical.

But the investigation found that in a number of similar incidents on different vessels those struck by snapped ropes had all died because of their injuries.

“Once the accident had happened, the response of the crew and the terminal staff was immediate; the emergency services were alerted, and medical first-aid was provided swiftly. The injuries suffered by the OiC were life threatening, but because of the efforts of his crewmates, the emergency service paramedics and hospital surgeons, he survived,” it adds.

A previous report into the South Hook incident stated that damage to the failed rope would have been impossible to detect visually due to its construction.

The mooring lines fitted to Zarga were high-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) jacketed synthetic fibre ropes, with a close-fitting braided abrasion-resistant jacket, which prevented assessment of any fatigue. The failed mooring rope was five years old and had been expected to last for at least eight.

The investigation found that rope failures had been increasing since 2010 on vessels, many occurring while at South Hook and usually when using

Steelite Superline Xtra rope.

The manufacture has since withdrawn it from sale following the MAIB investigation.

The report states: “It was apparent that the vessel operator and Zarga’s crew had not fully recognised the risk of snap-back introduced by the elasticity of the mooring line tails.

“The bosun and the forward mooring party’s OiC had not been to South Hook before, which probably contributed to the deck crew’s initial rigging of only nine mooring lines and the OiC’s failure to identify the problem. However, with better communication and control, the initial error could have been resolved before Zarga reached the berth.

“Mooring decks are extremely hazardous places, and it is readily apparent from similar accidents that this type of accident is not uncommon, and often has fatal consequences.

“Standing in the bight or the snap-back zone of a rope when it suddenly tightens or parts is the most common cause of injury or death on mooring decks.

“Factors that often contribute to mooring deck accidents are lack of communication and control, insufficient training and experience, and the person-in-charge becoming directly involved with a particular aspect of the operation. All of these factors were evident in this case.”

Action has been taken by the MAIB, Shell and rope manufacturer Biden to reduce the chance of similar incidents occurring and a number of recommendations to be followed have been issued.

The full report is available on the MAIB website.