I was on a cruise vessel and I was disappointed that on arrival, it was evident that neither accommodation ladder had been rigged with a safety net. I questioned this with the security crew present at the time, and they declared that they did not require one. On boarding I asked if I could speak to the vessel’s Safety Officer, only to be told by the information desk, no one was available. I requested the procedure for making a complaint to the Master.
I was given a piece of paper. I addressed a note to the Master and vessel’s Safety Officer, informing them that it was a requirement to supply and rig a safety net and also that its absence would leave themselves and their employer exposed if any incident around the ladders occurred. No action was taken.
On a subsequent port call it was again noted that no gangway net was rigged. I again raised it with the people at the gangway, who swipe the identity cards, but they knew nothing of the requirements. I asked for the procedures to complain to the Master and again, I got a piece of paper. I was also told by the Receptionist that a net had never been rigged there in the six month’s he had been on board. My letter again pointed out the requirement under regulations to have a net at the gangway and near the quayside. No action was taken.
I later saw a Senior Second Officer heading for a restaurant, so I asked him whether it was policy to rig a net. He informed me it was a requirement to have a net out, and they complied with that. I suggested he checks this out the next time we arrived in port.
Next port, again, no gangway net, again, I raised it with reception, and I addressed another note to the Master, pointing out that members of his crew were willfully neglecting their responsibilities. Reception informed me that the Security Officer was in charge of the gangway. On my return from a trip, the Security Officer was present at the bottom of the gangway, so I queried him on the lack of a safety net. He informed me, that they complied with the requirements, and a net would be difficult to rig. No action was taken.
I never saw a Deck Officer at the gangway, and the only Deck Officer I saw during the week was the Senior Second Officer I spoke to about the gangway net.
Unfortunately, the vessel gave a very poor impression, from the time of boarding. This impression was carried on throughout the voyage, on a number of activities. The safety culture appeared poor, I did not go looking for examples, but I was disappointed at the way the vessel appeared to be run, especially as it was under a reputable flag.
I fully understand how impossible it is to comply all the time with every regulation, but I feel the vessel should at least get the basics right.
In the UK this issue is covered by the Means of Access Regulations 1988 which state at s.9(2):
“The master shall ensure that when access equipment is in use and there is a risk of a person falling from that access equipment or from the ship or from the quayside immediately adjacent to the access equipment, a safety net is mounted in order to minimise the risk of injury.”
Other flags or ports may have similar requirements, but the issue of ensuring safe access is a matter of common sense not just whether there is a regulation or not.
CHIRP contacted the operator of the vessel and was informed an internal audit had identified the same issue and gangway nets are now in use.