Investigation into crewman’s death found the crew were not effectively briefed for mooring operations

An investigation into

the loss of a crewman after he went overboard has found that the crew were not properly

briefed for mooring operations and the man was unsupervised.

Sergey Gaponov was

pulled overboard from cargo vessel Sea

Melody
in December last year when his foot became caught in the bight of a

mooring rope as the ship was shifting berths at Groveport, River Trent.

Despite an extensive

search by rescue crews, including a lifeboat, helicopter, coastguards and

police divers, the 40-year-old’s body was never recovered.

The Marine Accident

Investigation Branch established that “the crewman was unsupervised at the time

of the accident and the crew had not been briefed before the mooring operation

began.”

There was also a

breakdown in communication between the shore linesmen and the crew, at both the

planning stage and during the operation.

Mr Gaponov, a Russian

national, was handling mooring lines as the vessel moved berths when the

incident happened on 18 December.

The operation should

have been straightforward but the vessel was in light condition, reducing the

efficiency of the bow thrusters.

There was also a near gale

force offshore wind and a strong tidal flow acting on the bow, causing the ship

to veer away from the berths towards the middle of the river.

“The circumstances which led to

Sergey’s foot becoming caught in a bight of the headline cannot be known for

certain as he was not supervised at the time of the accident.

“However, based on evidence obtained,

it can be concluded that Sergey had pulled in slack rope by hand as Sea

Melody
moved ahead, and then controlled the slack rope with his foot to pay

it out as the vessel dropped astern.

“When almost all the slack rope had

payed out his foot became trapped in a bight and he was pulled overboard before

other crew could assist him”, said the report.

Mr Gaponov called out

for help when his leg became caught but fellow crewmen were unable to prevent

him from being pulled over the bow due to the weight on the headline.

Following the

incident, Mr Gaponov could be seen floating facedown in the water and was

thrown two lifebuoys but remained motionless.

The tidal stream took

his body until it he disappeared from sight beyond the vessel’s stern.

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