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Procedures for safe mooring -Deployment and monitoring of moorings for cargo ship

Mooring lines – Lines (or cables) used to secure a ship at a berth. Mooring lines should be arranged as symmetrically as possible about the midship point of the ship.

Breast lines – Mooring lines leading ashore as perpendicular as possible to the ship fore and aft line. Breast lines restrain the ship in one direction (off the berth). Note: Due to collision with shore gantry cranes, breast lines are not used in container terminals.

Head lines – Mooring lines leading ashore from the fore end or forecastle of a ship, often at an angle of about 45 degrees to the fore and aft line.

Spring lines – Mooring lines leading in a nearly fore and aft direction, the purpose of which is to prevent longitudinal movement (surge) of the ship while in berth. Spring lines restrain the ship in two directions: headsprings prevent forward motion and backsprings aft motion.

Stern lines – Mooring lines leading ashore from the after end or poop of a ship, often at an angle of about 45 degrees to the fore and aft line. Further reading: Loss Prevention Report “Understanding mooring accidents”, it can be freely downloaded from

Oceangoing cargo vessels mooring procedures involve many complexities and careful consideration will need to be made for safe berthing and unberthing from ports. Following are the basic guideline that should be taken into account by deck officer while performing mooring operations. The procedures explained here are only indicative, not exhaustive in nature and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship.

Deployment and monitoring of moorings

The master shall ensure that mooring operations (including interaction with Tugs) are carried out in a safe manner and the following items are properly addressed:

• Suitable planning and supervision

• Proper communication

• Competency of personnel

• Sufficient members in the mooring teams

• Familiarity with any specific shore requirements relating to shore moorings, passing traffic and tidal/weather conditions

All mooring equipment and practices shall comply with applicable guidelines (for Tankers as per OCIMF) and local regulations.

Any unsafe situations shall be identified, evaluated and recorded in the Safety & Health Committee Meeting. Corrective actions shall be implemented as necessary.

Safety of crew during mooring operations

The Company’s Risk Assessment procedure shall be utilized to ensure that during all anticipated mooring arrangements and equipment use, the safety of crew is ensured.

Anchor & mooring equipment
Fig: Anchor & mooring equipment

Tanker vessels engaging in different mooring patterns shall be particularly careful with the mooring arrangement and preparation onboard with particular emphasis on:

• Use of remote control position for operating winches (where applicable)

• Clear layout on deck prior operations

• The use of proper personal protective equipment

• Identification and monitoring of dangerous zones during mooring operations

• Quick and close communication between stations

Tanker vessels engaging in different mooring patterns / arrangements, shall carry out a Formal Risk Assessment for each type, to assess and minimize risk to crew associated with the operation.

Such Risk Assessments shall be reviewed prior to similar subsequent operations and any additionally identified risks suitably managed and recorded.

mooring ropes correct handling
Fig: Mooring ropes correct deployment

Mooring operation in port

The master shall ensure that all important factors affecting safe mooring of the vessel throughout the duration of port stay are monitored and recorded.
These may include:

• Weather conditions, both present and forecasted

• Tide and Current ranges

• Traffic movement in the vicinity (where applicable)

• Interval of mooring patrols depending upon above factors

Maintenance of mooring equipment (TANKERS)

Brake Testing

Mooring equipment onboard shall be maintained in good working condition so as to secure safety in mooring operations.

Planned Maintenance Schedules include a requirement for Annual Brake Testing of all mooring winches using the test kit provided onboard.

This includes testing of Brake Holding Power / Rendering and adjustment to ensure rendering of mooring winch brakes at optimum stress to reduce the risk of injury from overstressed mooring.

Such procedures meet applicable OCIMF guidelines, and winch brake shall be marked after testing and brakes to be set at correct tension setting while in use.

Record of spare inventory is to be kept on board and used spares replenished.

Replacement of Wires, Ropes and Tails (Tankers)

For all Mooring ropes, Wires, Tails, and Shackles, record of certificates, replacement date and specific winches to which they are fitted, is to be maintained.

The PMS procedure includes inspection intervals for all mooring equipment and also covers End-to-End and Renewal procedures.

Certain intensive vessel trading patterns may warrant more frequent change of spares such as mooring rope tails.

Such intervals may be shorter than that prescribed in OCIMF guidelines.

Note: Company standard for replacing Mooring Wires on Tankers

Mooring wires is to be designated as below.

Head / Stern lines: Replacing: 7.5 years & Reversing end to end: 3.75 years

Spring / Breast lines: Replacing: 5 years & Reversing: 2.5 years

Maintenance of mooring equipment ( Container ships)

Replacement of Mooring Ropes (Container Ships)

Characteristic of Mooring ropes below mentioned in use should be acknowledge by all staffs who are engaged in the mooring operation.

• Material and Type of Thread

• Safe Working Load

• Stretching ratio

• Anti-abrasion, Water-tightness against Sea water, etc

For all mooring ropes, record of certificates, replacement date and specific winches to which they are fitted, is to be maintained. If mooring ropes are observed major damage or heavy corrosion, report to the Company for the replacement.

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