The gas carrier was due to sail at what on paper was just after low water. The vessel was moored port side to with only a short length of the parallel body properly alongside the jetty. Being low water and the vessel being of less than 100m LOA there was no proper means of access to the vessel available.
No gangway was rigged. This is not a criticism of the vessel, there is no way at low water that a vessel of that size can comply with the regulations concerning safe access as the distance from the jetty to the main deck and the peculiar deck layout of these vessels will I suggest make it impossible to comply in nearly every case. Those involved in the operation of the terminal treat this as a fact of life.
The vessel’s agent gained access by climbing down a ladder on the end of the jetty and “stepping” over the waterman’s workboat. The condition of the ladder used was a cause of concern but as it was daylight, dry and warm it was considered justified in using it as the alternative was to delay the vessel. The agent had to climb up the ladder on to the jetty when he left.
The gangway of the vessel was on the jetty. Crewmembers climbed up the jetty face to retrieve it. There was no ladder available and they clambered up and along to reach a ladder, rigged lines to lower the gangway to their colleagues on board and then clambered back on board. I was horrified at the risks taken by the deck crew and that no attempt was made to stop it.
The other issue which concerns me is that the vessel was working cargo whilst no means of access to or from the vessel was available in the event of an emergency from the time the gangway became unusable on the falling tide(s) until it was available again on the rising tide(s).
I hope that you are able to place this information in the hands of the appropriate agencies in order to help protect the personal safety of crewmembers of vessels visiting this terminal and to ensure that the terminal tightens up its procedures.
This report was sent to SIGTTO, who reproduced it in their own newsletter to alert all installations which might have similar issues. The SIGTTO publication “Liquified Gas Handling Principles on Ships and in Terminals” states at 6.6.6:
“It is the duty of both the ship and terminal to ensure that adequate and safe ship/shore access is provided……Ideally, a jetty should provide a secondary means of escape from the ship in case the normal access is unusable in an emergency…”
The document does not appear to contemplate a primary access being unavailable!
SIGTTO added the comment:
“The practices that prevailed at the jetty on this occasion are in contravention of the requirements laid down in the UK Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) “The Bulk Transfer of Dangerous Liquids and Gases Betvveen Ship and Shore”.