The mooring process is one of the most important and delicate tasks marine workers have to perform. Mooring accidents happen from time to time mostly due to lack of concentration and factors that can be avoided. Some seafarers call these factors the ‘death traps’ on ships. Equipped with the know-how of how to avoid these ‘death traps’, the occurrence of accidents involving innocent seafarers can be reduced. Deck crew has to be familiar with safety precautions and have great understanding of the deck machineries.
First of all, the ports must be well equipped with high quality rubber fenders / dock fenders. Fenders acts as a ‘dock bumper’ to absorb collision energy and minimise the reaction force to both surfaces. This prevents damage to the quay and ship during contact. Due to being vulnerable to friction, jetty fenders should be protected from shear forces by covers and frontal pads made from other materials. Besides, some are designed in a roller system so that the ship can slide along the wharf without ripping out the fenders.
Pre-tensioning the mooring lines uses friction to prevent the fore and aft movement of the vessel when heaved tight up against the rubber fenders. A certain degree of softness factor for the fenders would help during mooring process as they allow effective pre-tensioning. Fenders’ change in shape during contact when compressed would help ensure that relatively small movements of the vessel would not result in fore and aft motion of the vessel due to friction.
Weather Condition & Deck Condition
Weather condition that involves the wind and current condition should be considered before the mooring operation. Should a future weather condition be challenging for the mooring operation, the safety of the crew should be taken into consideration. Seafarers should be aware of ‘snap back zones’ and rope bight to avoid accidents during the operation. One of the most overlooked mistake is to allow extra personnel on the deck during mooring. Those who are not assisting in the mooring operation should not be on the mooring station. It is also important to keep the mooring station clear with no unused ropes and equipment on the deck.
Mooring Winch & Offshore Winds
Mooring winch should be properly maintained and perform at an efficient level. Winch brakes and other parts should be thoroughly checked before mooring. Cargo berths are becoming increasingly exposed to offshore winds. It is the trend these days that ports were redeveloped in order to allow more mechanised cargo handling, and traditional warehouses with shelters were omitted. Short loading platforms provide little shelter for bulk carriers and tankers. This should highlight other issues that accompanies exposure to offshre winds.
After the mooring process, the checking of the load on mooring ropes and the condition of the rope are still equally important. Any of the mooring lines are not more than 55% of its Maximum Breaking Load (MBL) to prevent the rope from snapping and causing undesired accidents. Changes in ballast condition of the ship require the lines to be tightened accordingly. These are just some of factors to be considered during the mooring operation. The process requires all personnel involved to be highly diligent and equipment to be efficient to prevent mooring accidents from happening.