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Poor stability caused man overboard

It was late autumn and the vessel had loaded timber logs. A large portion of the logs was loaded on deck. The Chief Officer had overseen the loading and the crew had secured the cargo. This was a normal operation that the crew had done many times before. The vessel was fully loaded and didn’t have much ballast onboard.

During the voyage to the destination port the crew checked and secured the cargo as required. The weather during the voyage was favourable at about 4 on the Beaufort scale, so there were no strong winds or difficult sea. The vessel didn’t roll during the voyage.

When the vessel got closer to land, the Chief Officer pumped out even more ballast so the vessel had a lesser draft. The Chief Officer thought the vessel was just around the permissible draught at departure so he wanted to have a lesser draught when berthing.

As the vessel was approaching the port, one of the ABs went forward to prepare for arrival. At the same time as the vessel altered course, a heavy gust of wind hit the side of it and caused the vessel to list almost 20° which caused the deck cargo to shift.

Because the cargo shifted the vessel started to list almost 40°. This had a spiralling effect and the lashings started to break and logs fell into the sea.

At the same time the AB on the bow fell into the water because of the excessive list. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket. The AB could be seen holding on to some logs. The Master on the bridge lost sight of him for a while during the tumultuous event and when he looked for the AB again he couldn’t see him. The Chief Officer, who was also on the bridge, had released the MOB light from the bridge wing and also thrown another lifebuoy towards the AB.

The master called the VTS on the radio and informed them that they had a man overboard and that they had lost sight of him and needed assistance. Because of all the timber that had fallen overboard, the vessel started to right itself. The vessel still had a list of about 10°.

The master also ordered the anchor to be dropped and launched the MOB boat to search for the AB.
The AB was never found.
Source: Swedish Club

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