‘External teams working on board ships need to be supervised’

External teams working on board should be supervised by experienced crew to prevent potential unsafe acts. The Nautical Institute issues this warning in a recent Mars Report in which a member of a security team fell overboard while placing razor wire.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

A vessel was making for an area subject to piracy, and a security team had come on board and were installing razor wire at vulnerable areas on the ship. While underway, the bridge was informed via VHF radio that a member of the security team had fallen overboard.

The master initiated recovery procedures and within thirty minutes the man overboard (MOB) was safely recovered. The victim was in good condition having suffered only minor injuries.

Investigation findings

The company investigation found that in an attempt to place the razor wire outside the rails, the MOB victim had extended his body over the rails, lost his balance and fallen into the sea. The security team members were working alone without supervision from any of the vessel’s crew.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Good cooperation, effective communication and coordination of work activities with onboard subcontractors are important issues to ensure successful and safe operations.
  • Experienced crew should always supervise external teams working on board to ensure compliance and prevent potential unsafe acts.
  • Company safety procedures must be effectively communicated and strictly implemented at all times.

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202069, that are part of Report Number 338. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s January 2021 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.

Picture by Sam Wilson.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.