As UK MAIB reports in its most recent Safety Digest, in a dark autumn morning, a domestic roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ferry was preparing to shift across from the lay-by berth onto the linkspan, ready for its first load of the day.
B efore letting go the last of the forward mooring ropes, the able seaman (AB) working the forward mooring deck noticed that the heaving line was caught around the middle section of the mooring rope and the loose end had been tied off on the handrail. The AB released the heaving line and mooring rope and payed them out together until the linesman ashore had enough slack to let the mooring rope go, whereupon he started to manually heave the mooring rope and heaving line back inboard. Cotton Rope Basket
When the mooring rope was released the heaving line, which was weighted with a sandbag, sank and was drawn into the forward propulsion unit. The mooring rope was still caught up in the heaving line and ripped free of the AB’s hands and started to pay out at speed from the pallet that it was stowed on, at which point he tried to jump out of the way to a safe area.
The loose end of the mooring rope whipped round some of the bitts and through the fairlead, catching the AB’s lower leg before it disappeared into the water. The AB had the presence of mind to use his radio to shout up to the bridge to stop the propulsion unit, after which he collapsed onto the deck in agony. The AB suffered severe bruising and abrasions to his leg, but the injuries could have been much worse.
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