Marine Safety Information Letter No. 01/18

Safety issues associated with mooring operations in the maritime industry

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Marine Safety Information Letter No. 01/18
Related occurrence: M17C0060

Letter addressed to Transport Canada

Subject: Marine Safety Information Letter No. 01/18 – Safety issues associated with mooring operations in the maritime industry

On 22 May 2017, the Singapore-flagged bulk carrier Nord Quebec (International Maritime Organization [IMO] No 9612296) was berthing at section 16 of the Port of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, under the conduct of a pilot and with the assistance of 2 harbour tugs. During the manoeuvre, the 2 mooring ropes being used as forward spring lines became caught under one of the dock fenders. Both mooring ropes consisted of 8-strand mixed polymer (polyolefin and high tenacity polyester) ropes, 48 mm in diameter. When the spring lines were freed 9 minutes after having been caught under the fender, they sprung upwards in a slingshot motion. The first spring line swung up well above the Nord Quebec's side handrail resulting in the second officer being hit in the chin and sustaining fatal injuries. There was no damage to the vessel and no pollution was reported. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation into this occurrence is ongoing (TSB Occurrence M17C0060).

Several occurrences, involving complications with mooring and similar to that of the Nord Quebec, have been reported both in Canada and abroad. Statistics contained in the TSB database show that between 2007 and 2017, 24 occurrences (including this occurrence) involving mooring operations in Canada on board both domestic and foreign-flagged vessels were reported. In these occurrences, 24 people sustained serious injuries and 2 people were fatally injured. A total of 9 occurrences were caused by mooring lines parting and whipping (also known as "snap-back"), 5 occurrences were due to the slingshot and catapult effects of taut mooring lines, and 10 occurrences involved injuries sustained by crew members either falling, tripping or being crushed during mooring operations.

Mooring accidents were also investigated by other IMO Member States during the 2001-2017 period. Chile, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (IMO associate member), Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (U.K.) and Sweden reported on 25 marine casualties and 14 very serious marine casualties. These casualties were caused either by mooring lines snap-back or entrapment, crew members tripping, falling, striking or getting struck while conducting mooring operations, overall resulting in 27 people sustaining serious injuries and 13 people sustaining fatal injuries.

The Marine Accident Investigators' International Forum (MAIIF), in its 26th annual meeting held in November 2017 and regrouping 31 of its 51 member national marine safety investigating authorities, including the TSB, discussed mooring safety. More precisely, the attendees scrutinized the findings of the U.K.'s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report that followed a casualty on board the liquefied natural gas tanker Zarga during mooring operations in Milford Haven, U.K. on March 2nd, 2015Footnote 1. This report contained several recommendations to major stakeholders such as the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF). Subsequently, it triggered an extensive revision of the OCIMF's Mooring Equipment Guidelines (MEG 3). Alternatively, MAIFF has encouraged all its members to provide input to their respective States based on findings from mooring-related marine casualities that were investigated under their respective jurisdictions.

The aforementioned is provided so that you may take whatever measures are considered appropriate in the circumstances. More precisely, as Canada's State Representative at IMO, Transport Canada - Marine Safety and Security may wish to bring this information to IMO's Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC), currently tasked with proposing changes to the SOLAS Convention (Chapter II-1, Part A-1, Regulation 3-8, Towing and mooring equipment), revising the guidelines MSC.1/Circ.1175 (Guidance on shipboard towing and mooring equipment), and drafting new guidelines for safe mooring operations for all ships. The TSB would appreciate being advised of any such action. Moreover, an investigator may follow up with you at a later date.

Upon completion of investigation M17C0060, the Board will release its investigation report into this occurrence.

Original signed by

Marc-André Poisson
Investigations – Marine


  • Maritime and Corporate Administrator, Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Marine Accident Investigation Branch, United Kingdom

Background information

Occurrence no.



Mr. François Dumont, Regional Senior Investigator, Engineering, Central Region

Mrs. Line Laroche, Regional Manager, Central Region

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