Vessel Type: Bulk Carrier
This fully laden bulk carrier was on passage in the Mediterranean Sea during winter. The bosun and a cadet were instructed to wash down the vessel’s main deck and hatch covers of cargo dust which had accumulated during the previous cargo loading operation. The wind at this time was logged as SE Beaufort force 7 with sea state described as very rough. Whilst the seamen were handling the hose on the starboard side, a wave was shipped onto the main deck, sweeping them heavily against the adjacent cargo hold hatch coamings. Both sustained multiple injuries requiring the vessel to deviate to land the seamen ashore for urgent hospital treatment.
The seamen were very lucky to escape with their lives in this case and additionally fortunate that the vessel was not remote from shore medical facilities. They could very easily have become fatalities by their injuries and/or lost overboard. In the weather conditions described, it should have been fully anticipated that heavy seas could be shipped on deck, particularly on a loaded, low freeboard vessel. To have performed a low priority task such as washing down in these circumstances was reckless and should never have been permitted by the vessel’s command.