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
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

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
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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