The Nautical Institute warns that embarkation/disembarkation needs to controlled rigorously after a recent incident in which someone fell into the water between ship and quay and subsequently drowned. The incident is discussed in a recent Mars Report.

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 small container vessel was secured in port. A couple of visitors had boarded and, in the early morning hours, they were now on their way off the vessel. The gangway had been raised a few metres above the dock surface, so the gangway watchman needed to lower it back down to the dockside to permit their exit.

As this was being done, the two visitors attempted to disembark by stepping over the bulwark, which was almost at the same height as the quay. One of the persons fell into the water in the gap between the vessel’s side and the quay. Two life rings were quickly thrown into the water and a monkey ladder and lifelines were rigged on the vessel’s bulwark.

The general alarm was sounded and the port emergency service was called for immediate assistance. Shore assistance arrived in less than twenty minutes and the victim was recovered about twenty minutes after that. The victim was transferred to a shore hospital, but his death by drowning was later confirmed.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • The visitors were tempted to step ashore by the near equality of height between the berth and the bulwark. This false sense of security and overconfidence cost a life.
  • Rigorous management and control of embarkation/disembarkation is of the utmost importance.

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202064, that are part of Report Number 337. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s December 2020 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.