Weakened hardware, improper securement led to accidental release and injuries during lifeboat drill in British Columbia
Richmond, British Columbia, 21 June 2022 — In its investigation report (M20P0353) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that weakened hardware and an improperly secured lifeboat sling caused the accidental release of a free-fall lifeboat during a drill aboard the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus in British Columbia.
On 1 December 2020, while the crew on the Blue Bosporus were carrying out a free-fall lifeboat drill in English Bay, British Columbia, the slings holding the lifeboat failed. As a result, the lifeboat fell approximately 14 m to the water. There were two unsecured crew members in the lifeboat at the time. Both crew members were seriously injured and were transferred to hospital. The forward starboard side of the lifeboat’s hull sustained damage. There was no pollution.
The investigation found that the crimp sleeves, which are used to secure the eyes on the lifeboat slings, had weakened over time. The manner in which the slings were attached to the hooks on the lifeboat davit caused the load to concentrate on the right rear sling. This, in combination with the weakened crimp sleeves, caused the failure of the slings and a bracket on the lifeboat. Without a complete procedure for conducting a drill that involved launching the lifeboat using the davit, the crew had developed an informal practice that did not address the risk of standing unsecured in the lifeboat, which led to the serious injury of 2 crew members when the lifeboat fell.
Although the vessel owner, Apollonia Lines S.A., had regular maintenance routines in place to verify the condition of the lifeboat and its launching appliances, they did not prompt the crew to specifically check the condition of the slings. While there are international requirements for inspections of lifeboat lifting appliances and associated components, they do not clearly address slings associated with free-fall lifeboats. In the absence of any international guidance requiring free-fall lifeboat slings to be verified periodically, inspected before use and marked with a safe working load, there is a risk that this critical equipment will be overlooked during inspections or its safe limits will be exceeded, leading to an accident.
Following the occurrence, Apollonia Lines S.A. replaced the failed and damaged equipment aboard the Blue Bosporus, including a newly manufactured, load tested and certified sling assembly and brackets. The company also issued a safety management system circular to all its vessels regarding requirements for inspections of lifeboats and associated equipment and for lifeboat drills.
See the investigation page for more information.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada