Monday, February 12, 2007

Safety First!!!

“Safety first” is at the moment the more common slogan used throughout shipping companies in the world, sounds good, is politically correct and of course keep everybody happy.
As we all know, IMO, maritime agencies and countries with maritime activities since long time have put an important focus on safety trying to regulate and control this issue through codes, resolutions, well rules and more rules.
One example of a code that had improve quite significantly the safety on board vessels was the International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention known as ISM code, other measure was the Standards on Training of Crews and Watch-keeping the STCW and obviously the Port State Control the PSC.
Briefly above I just spring out the name of three aspects that I thing of paramount importance for the future of a safe maritime activity.
Now, I’ll try to describe a very dangerous situation that had happen with me in Brazil on board a Offshore Vessel used for Offshore Terminals maintenance some time ago.
One morning I was doing maintenance operations on a FPSO location in Brazil, I arrived on location following all procedures according Company and Charter, the job consists in flushing a twenty inches diameter floating hose used to offload crude oil from the FPSO to the shuttle tanker, this hose has a length about 360m(36 sections of ten meters each). This hose is hoisted on vessel deck from the water by the tanker-end hose section messenger (10’’ polyprop rope) through the vessel stern roller. We connected our drill water line to the hose and start the flushing from our vessel to the FPSO slop tank to later on change one damaged section on the hose. This operation takes always long time and we sit on joy-stick holding stations at a safe distance from the FPSO try not to hit it or stretch the hose, for the ones used to work offshore this hose is quite alright in length, usually the hoses used on normal transfers of water or fuel from supply vessels to platforms are usually much shorter.
I was driving the vessel keeping VHF watch on channel 16 and another working channel with the FPSO, that’s when the radio operator call me to ask if was possible to me move the vessel away about 150m to make room for a supply vessel approach for one lift up, I contact the supply master to say that I just thought the all operation was very dangerous and was much wiser for him to wait until we finish the flushing.
He insists that he was used to do this with other vessels, I answer him that if he insists in coming along side I’ll will stop the operation and pass the hose back to the FPSO, for my amazing when I look to portside (The postcon on this kind of vessels are looking to the stern) his vessel was already slot in between me and the FPSO!!!
I kept my vessel the more steady as possible and the operation went okay on the first lift up and on the others that followed the first!!!
After a while I received another call from FPSO radio operator saying that a Helicopter was landing on the heli-deck in five minutes asking me to go further away from the platform because the supply vessel was still there and the helicopter pilot was complaining with the supply vessel proximity so he could come off a little bit. The helicopter landed safely and liftoff without any problem but the all operation was totally wrong.
God and all saints this time were on our side and nothing went wrong for all involved but as the experience tell us this situation is a big accident to happen.
I had issued an incident report to the charter and passed the incident to my Company as normal procedure. Until today I didn’t receive any answer from the charter, our local safety delegate had contacted the charter but nothing happens.
“Safety First” can be a very nice slogan but it’s up to us on the field with our day by day actions the only way to put this slogan to work, think safe, be safe out there…

Please see the picture taken during the incident.



Sailor Girl said...

Please do not forget that today is the 1st anniversary of our friend L M Correia's fantastic blog «SHIPS & THE SEA»!!!


Malheiro do Vale said...

Using your own words; thanks mate!

Butterfly said...

This is great info to know.