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The importance of kill cords reiterated by UK Coastguard following an incident

The UK Coastguard has issued kill cord safety advice following a recent incident when two men were thrown from their speedboat in the afternoon of 12 July off the coast of Kent. The kill cord is designed to ‘kill’ a boat engine in case the driver goes overboard.

At around 2.25pm on 12 July, HM Coastguard received a number of 999 calls reporting that two men had been thrown from a speedboat, which then continued unmanned until it crashed into the sea wall at Minnis Bay Margate. The two men were rescued by the RNLI Lifeguards.

Margate Coastguard Rescue Team, Margate RNLI lifeboat, Minnis Bay RNLI Lifeguards and Kent Police were on scene and the two men, who were wearing lifejackets, were recovered from the water. They had not sustained any serious injuries.

Tony Evans, HM Coastguard Maritime Operations Specialist, said:
“These two men have had a very lucky escape. Although they were wearing lifejackets, it would appear that they had a kill cord on the engine but neither of them was wearing it. With a busy beach nearby, the circumstances could have been very different, or indeed tragic, if the vessel had not crashed into the wall.”

On the aftermath of the incident, the HM Coastguard advised:
– All owners and drivers of open powerboats, personal watercraft and RIBs should ensure that if their boat is fitted with a kill switch and kill cord, it is correctly used.
– On a powerboat the kill cord should be attached securely around the thigh and on a personal watercraft it should be attached to the buoyancy aid.
– Attach your kill cord before the engine is started, but certainly before the boat is put in gear where safe to do so.
– Stop the engine before transferring the kill cord to another driver.
– Always check your kill cord works at the start of each day or session and remember to replace it when there are signs of ageing, or wear and tear or it starts to lose spiral tension.
– When replacing kill cords, buy the manufacturers genuine replacement kill cords.
– Do not leave kill cords out in the elements. Extremes of temperature and UV light will harm the kill cord in the long term.

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Electrical fault caused the fire on Best Revenge 5 says NTSB report

Image credit: Sailing Directions
Image credit: Sailing Directions

The NTSB has issued its investigation report on the fire onboard sailing boat ‘Best Revenge 5’, while it was docked at a marina pier at Inner Harbor in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in July 2017.

At about 0130 on 11 July 2017, the ‘Best Revenge 5’ caught fire while docked at a marina pier in Falmouth Inner Harbor. The vessel’s two crew members escaped the burning vessel and attempted to fight the fire but could not contain it. Local firefighters later extinguished it.

One crew member sustained second and third degree burns to the arms, hands, and feet. An oil sheen was observed in the immediate vicinity of the vessel after the fire but was contained by a floating boom.

Damage to the Best Revenge 5 (which was declared a constructive total loss), to a vessel docked next to it, and to the pier totalled an estimated $1,508,000.

Probable cause
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire aboard the uninspected sailing vessel Best Revenge 5 and on its pier was an electrical fault in an accommodation space on the vessel.

Analysis
After the fire, marina personnel reported that the circuit breaker powering the dock pedestal from shore was in the “tripped” position (electrically disconnected as a protection measure) and that the two shore power circuit breakers onboard the vessel (fed by cables from the pedestal) were undamaged and tripped to the “off” position as well. They concluded that the vessel “may have been [electrically] powered at the time of the fire.”

The fire originated on the port side of the vessel; specifically, in the area between the port side lavatory, aft stateroom closet, and port side hull, in the area of the shore power pedestal. The only potential ignition sources identified within the area of origin were the shore power pedestal, electrical conductors/ components in the lavatory, aft-port stateroom closet, and area above the aft port lavatory/shower area. The only fuels identified were the fiberglass hull, insulation, and ordinary combustibles within the area of origin. The report noted that both equipment and conductors that may have been affected by the lightning strike (which occurred a month earlier in Bermuda) were “located in the general origin area of the fire.

The report concluded that equipment or conductor failure “due to lightning damage cannot be eliminated as a possible cause of the fire.” Similarly, the shore power pedestal “cannot be eliminated as a cause of the fire” due to several missing components that were unable to be examined. Ultimately, a specific cause of the fire could not be identified “due to multiple ignition scenarios that cannot be eliminated.”

If the shore power pedestal was the source of the fire, it would have had to first have an electrical fault resulting in ignition of the pedestal’s wire insulation and plastic casing. The ensuing pedestal fire would have had to reach a sufficient intensity to ignite the vessel’s paint, fiberglass, and resin on the portside hull through direct flame impingement or radiant heat.

Burn marks on the dock around the power pedestal, however, did not indicate that the pedestal was fully engulfed in fire on all sides. Additionally, the damaged remnants of the power pedestal indicated an uneven burn with the areas farthest away from the boat less affected by the fire.

Read the report in full: NTSB-Fire-aboard-Sailing-Vessel-Best-Revenge-5

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Australian Government extends Domestic Commercial Vessel scheme levy-free period in surprise move

In an unexpected turn in the face of severe criticism from the local surveying profession and others associated with the maritime industry, the Australian Government government has announced an additional AUS$10 million in funding to support the launch of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety (National System). The scheme, administered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), officially started on 1 July.

Last year, in response to an industry backlash over new fees and charges associated with the National System, the government promised AUS$102 million in funding over ten years and announced that no levies would be charged during the first year of the scheme’s operation.

With the additional government funding, the levy-free period has now been extended to three years.

Announcing the funding boost, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said the government remains committed to the National System delivering safety benefits for commercial boating, fishing and tourism operations across Australia.

“The Australian Government has listened to the concerns of Australia’s domestic commercial vessel industries about the cumulative impact of costs and charges on these industries. In response, I am announcing the Australian Government will provide an additional AUS$10 million funding for the national system, increasing our total contribution to AUS$65 million over ten years, and increasing total funding by all governments to AUS$112.4 million.

“This additional funding will mean no levy will be charged to industry for the first three years of AMSA’s service delivery to assist all operators as services transition.

“This will provide two more years for AMSA to engage with industry on a range of important matters.”

New fees for services provided by AMSA to individuals, such as issuing safety certification to vessels and seafarers, and accrediting marine surveyors, were also introduced on 1 July. However, the government also announced that due to “efficiencies that have already been identified” by AMSA, the fee for a new Certificate of Survey and a Certificate of Survey renewal will be reduced from $366 to $206.

A review of all costs and charges for the National System will be conducted in 2020–21, including public consultation.

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Shipowners P&I Club issues loss prevention and fishing vessel safety publication

There have been many studies carried out over the years showing that fatalities on fishing vessels remain a real threat.
There have been many studies carried out over the years showing that fatalities on fishing vessels remain a real threat.

On the occasion of the launch of Maritime Safety Week by the UK government running this week, the Shipowners Club issued its fishing vessel safety booklet, summarizing key safety tips for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. There have been many studies carried out over the years showing that fatalities on fishing vessels remain a real threat.

It is essential that the vessel’s skipper and all crew are fully familiarised with the vessel and its equipment, including any vessel-specific quirks, prior to departing a berth. A pre-sailing checklist should be completed, including:

– The operation and maintenance of the fishing equipment.
– The location and operation of safety equipment, ensuring it is free from obstruction
– The onboard layout of the spaces such as void spaces, engine room and cargo spaces.
– The location and operation of key equipment including:

a) Bilge level alarms
b) Sea water systems
c) Hydraulic piping and systems
d) Freeing ports and pumping systems
e) Items to ensure watertight integrity
f) Machinery
g) Electrics

Basic stability

It is crucial for skippers to have an awareness of the prevailing/forecasted weather conditions and sea state so as to determine if their vessel would be able to withstand such conditions. A vessel’s stability can be affected by many factors.

– Stability cannot be measured – it has to be calculated.
– They must be aware of all factors that affect the vessel’s stability.
– They must use the stability book if available.
– They must assess the effect of possible modifications may have on the vessel e.g. adding derricks and replacing winches.
– The higher up a weight is placed, the greater detrimental effect it has on the vessel’s stability.
– Incorrect stowage of fish.

Navigation

It is vital that the vessel has fully certified and trained crew on board who are capable of keeping a watch with a good understanding of what is required to undertake this safely and efficiently.

From the Club’s experience of claims, most navigational incidents are caused by:

– Poor watchkeeping, unqualified or inexperienced watchkeepers
– Insufficient lookout/no one on the bridge.
– Fatigue.
– Alcohol and drugs.

Read the 41 page pdf document specially prepared by Shipowners P&I Club: Shipowners-club-fishing-vessel-safety

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BPA calls for alcohol limits in UK recreational boating

Professional mariners and fishermen in charge of commercial ships are covered by alcohol limits but there is a loophole for those in the leisure sector.
Professional mariners and fishermen in charge of commercial ships are covered by alcohol limits but there is a loophole for those in the leisure sector.

The British Ports Association (BPA) has called for new legislation to introduce alcohol limits for non-professional mariners, replicating the rules that already exist for commercial ships in British waters.

Commenting on the anomaly, the BPA’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, said:
“As it is Maritime Safety Week its right that we revive the debate around the gap in legislation regarding alcohol limits for non-professional mariners. We understand there will be technical challenges to overcome and also that enforcement will not be easy but it cannot be right in this day and age that such a sizeable section of our maritime sector is exempt from drink-drive rules. There have been too many occasions when alcohol has endangered lives in the maritime environment, both within and outside ports and harbours.”

Professional mariners and fishermen in charge of commercial ships are covered by alcohol limits but there is a loophole for those in the leisure sector.

Laws to introduce drink driving offences for non-professional mariners were included in the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, however, this has never been brought into force.

Mr Ballantyne continued:
“This issue was last seriously looked at a decade ago when there was resistance from parts of the recreational marine community. However times and attitudes are changing and we feel that if the UK Government brought forward proposals now, the marine leisure and yachting sector would be more conducive to change.

“Rules for road users brought about a gradual change in culture for vehicle drivers but without new legislation, in the marine environment, it is difficult to see how we can drive a similar shift in behaviour. We have raised this with the UK Government and would welcome a constructive discussion with the with organisations such as the Royal Yachting Association and the Cruising Association along with the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, to look at how legislation might be drafted.”

The BPA will be actively promoting what ports are doing and highlighting the successes of initiatives such as the UK Port Marine Safety Code and the activities undertaken of the port’s industry’s safety organisation, Ports Skills and Safety.

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