489 - 09/06 - Another Lifeboat Drill; Another Death - Worldwide


A deck officer was recently killed in yet another lifeboat incident where the lifeboat fell from the embarkation level after the hooks disengaged from the falls during an abandon-ship drill.

The lifeboat hooks involved in this case were the type that has a safety pin and marks that indicate when the hook is correctly set in the locked position. This incident occurred on recovery of the lifeboat after a demonstration, and the investigation report suggests that the aft hook was incorrectly set when the boat was in the water prior to recovery.

It appears that the crew were not familiar with the operation of the lifeboat hooks and unaware of the significance of the small reset lever at the base of the hook, and the importance of aligning the green marks. The crew member who operated the aft hook was unable to recall if the marks were aligned when the hooks were engaged and the lifeboat recovered, nor could he recall the position of the reset lever.

This is another incident that highlights the importance of crew familiarity with the operating instructions and functionality of lifeboat hooks. Ships' officers must ensure they fully understand the manufacturers' instructions and then demonstrate to the crew proper use of the hooks.

It is important to relate operating instructions and diagrams to the actual hooks and it is recommended that ships' crew demonstrate the locking of hooks and manual releasing of hooks with the boat not attached to the falls i.e., once the boat has been lowered to the water and released from the falls.

It is understood that manufacturers' instructions are often unclear and images are sometimes of poor quality, looking as though they have been photocopied or scanned. In situations like this the manufacturer should be contacted and requested to provide better instructions.

Members are reminded of the extensive advice recently published by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency in a draft marine guidance note on measures to prevent accidents with lifeboats, available on the MCA website using the link below.


Source of information:

Loss Prevention Department

UK P&I Club

Tel: +44 207 204 2217




Staff Author