Why are Lifeboats Killing Seafarers? – gCaptain

By Nick Yatsenko, Master Mariner

During my life at sea, I was always anxious during lifeboat drills. One of my relatives was employed on a MSC container carrier as an Engineer Watchkeeper, and during his routine inspection inside the free-fall lifeboat, the craft suddenly released and fell into the water while a ship was underway.

He was lucky enough to survive and suffered only severe injury to his knee, and since the vessel was close to the shore so he was evacuated by the helicopter. In the hospital, he had a surgery and then spent another year recovering.

When I was working for Maersk Line, one of our ships reported that a rescue boat accident resulted in one crewmember being killed instantly. Another crewmember was seriously injured.

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive statistics on lifeboat accidents, but there is an ample amount of research showing a scary outcome. To name a few studies, from 1992-2004, marine insurer Gard recorded 32 cases of accidental release of lifeboats. Five cases were without injury to people (there are certainly much more, but these five have been reported because they involved P&I claims), the others caused 12 deaths and injury to 74 people. Among the people injured there were several very serious cases of head and spine injury, some causing paralysis or possibly leading to death at a later stage. There were also a few cases where members vessels have picked up drifting lifeboats at sea boats which had obviously fallen from the ships the....

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