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Procedures For Safe Mooring- Deployment and Monitoring of Moorings for Cargo Ship

Mooring and anchoring operations are one of the critical and hazardous tasks routinely carried out on ships. Mooring arrangement, the requirement of mooring equipment, and local weather conditions differ from port to port. Careful preplanning before any mooring operation is therefore essential. In the past many fatal injuries and even death of crew being reported due to unsafe mooring practices onboard. When mooring operation gets out of control, it may lead a vessel to collide with other ships or severe contact damage to shore structure and resulted in a considerable claim to the shipowner. Thus, it is of great importance when conducting any mooring operation to make a comprehensive risk assessment and follow specific steps to ensure the safety of all those doing the operation. This article aims to address some of the key issues for ensuring mooring safety and highlight information which may assist in onboard crew training and familiarisation.

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide
When a master receives the name of a port at sea for the next visit, preplanning starts. Ships navigating officers begin getting information about this port from various publications. A "Guide to port entry" provides valuable information of more than 6000 ports worldwide, which laid out in a logical sequence. Another source of data is the "Sailing direction"- often referred to as "Pilots". It helps navigators on all aspects of local navigation on a port. The master needs to make a safety briefing before mooring operations to disseminate all the essential information to the crew- a comprehensive risk assessment made at this stage to ensure safety in all respect.

Deployment and monitoring of moorings

The master should ensure that mooring operations (including interaction with Tugs) are carried out carefully, and the following items are appropriately addressed: All mooring equipment and practices should comply with applicable guidelines (for Tankers as per OCIMF) and local regulations. Any unsafe situations should be identified, evaluated, and recorded in the Safety & Health Committee Meeting. Corrective actions need to be implemented as necessary. Before conducting any mooring operation all mooring gears and communication systems should be tried out. When a pilot arrives mooring plan should be discussed and agreed. Officers in charge of mooring operations must clearly understand the plan and prepare accordingly. For safely moor a ship the effects of wind, underwater current, effects of tide, under keel clearance concerning ships draught, and surging effect of passing ships all must be properly taken into account.

mooring ropes correct handling
Mooring ropes handling guide

Before arrival, the berth deck crew should arrange all mooring lines in such a manner so that these are readily available to deploy. Definition of common mooring lines explained below:
  1. Breast lines – Mooring lines leading ashore as perpendicular 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 usually used in container terminals.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 the berth. Spring lines restrain the vessels in two directions: headsprings prevent forward motion and back springs aft motion.
  4. Stern lines – Mooring lines leading ashore from the after the end or poop of a ship, often at an angle of about 45 degrees to the fore and aft line.
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. As the ship moves near the berth all mooring equipment need to tested for appropriate working condition.

Anchor & mooring equipment
Fig: Anchor & mooring equipment

Tanker vessels engaging in different mooring patterns should be particularly careful with the mooring arrangement and preparation onboard with particular emphasis on
  1. Use of remote control position for operating winches (where applicable)
  2. Clear layout on deck prior operations
  3. The use of proper personal protective equipment
  4. Identification and monitoring of dangerous zones during mooring operations
  5. Quick and close communication between stations
Tanker vessels engaging in different mooring patterns/arrangements should carry out a Formal Risk Assessment for each type, to assess and minimize the crew associated with the operation. Such risk assessments are to be reviewed before similar subsequent operations and any additional identified risks suitably managed and recorded.

Mooring operation in port

The master should ensure that all important factors affecting safe mooring of the vessel throughout the duration of port stay are monitored and recorded. These may include:
  1. Weather conditions, both present and forecasted
  2. Tide and Current ranges
  3. Traffic movement in the vicinity (where applicable)
  4. Interval of mooring patrols depending upon above factors

Maintenance of mooring equipment (Tankers)

Brake Testing: Mooring equipment onboard should 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 Brake Holding Power / Rendering and adjustment to ensure rendering of mooring winch brakes at optimum stress to reduce the risk of injury from an overstressed mooring. Such procedures must meet applicable OCIMF guidelines, and winch brake should be marked after testing and brakes to be set at the 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, a 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. Specific intensive vessel trading patterns may warrant a more frequent change of spares such as mooring rope tails. Such intervals may be shorter than that prescribed in OCIMF guidelines. Standard for replacing Mooring Wires on some Tankers designated as below.
Maintenance of mooring equipment ( Container ships)

Characteristic of Mooring ropes below mentioned in use should be acknowledged by all staffs who are engaged in the mooring operation.
  1. Material and Type of Thread
  2. Safe Working Load
  3. Stretching ratio
  4. Anti-abrasion, Water-tightness against Sea water, etc
For all mooring ropes, a 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.

Further reading: Loss Prevention Report "Understanding mooring accidents," it can be freely downloaded from www.ukpandi.com

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