Several years ago, I was reading an article about a rescue boat that parted the fall wire and fell into the dock during a practice drill because it was overweight due to water entering the buoyancy spaces – one person was killed and two others badly injured.
The next day I checked our own rescue boat, and it was a surprise when we found that the covers of some openings were broken, and we found water inside.
- we stopped all drills with the rescue boat, awaiting instruction from the office.
- we were not able to check the weight of the rescue boat on board because we had no appropriate load cell. It should be included on the dry dock job list.
- on board newly delivered vessels, these openings should be filled up with silicon and then closed with a plastic plug.
We tried to mop out the water for two days, but it kept coming back, so the company instructed us to turn the boat upside down for a week to allow any water in the foam inside the compartments to drain out, which was successful. We then turned the boat up the right way and used silicone to seal the openings before fitting new plastic caps.
The article mentioned in this correspondence referred to the MAIB report into the fatal accident on board the car carrier Tombarra in 2011.
While acknowledging that this report is historic, the topic is still relevant today and while it was widely promulgated by certain flag states at the time, there are many vessels around the world and a whole generation of seafarers who may not be aware of the incident, the report or the remaining dangers.