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In January 1995, the offshore supply vessel Far Sword, along with the offshore supply vessel Lady Audrey, was engaged in support of the United States drilling vessel Glomar Robert F Bauer, operating in the North Gorgon field on the Northwest Shelf, in 720 m water depth, 43 nautical miles (80 km) north-west of Barrow Island.

During the evening of 23 January, operations commenced on recovering the Glomar Robert F Bauer's anchors, preparatory to a move to a new drilling location, Altair No.1, in the Medusa field, 54 nautical miles (100 km) west of Barrow Island.

Glomar Robert F Bauer uses an anchor buoy system, the anchor recovery operation requiring each anchor buoy to be taken on board one of the supply vessels and the anchor hauled from the sea bed using the buoy pennant wire.

On the morning of 24 January, while the three-man deck party of Far Sword was positioning an anchor buoy for securing on the aft deck, a sea broke over the stern and swept them up the deck. One of the seamen needed to be transferred to the Karratha hospital, where it was confirmed that he had a number of fractured ribs and a punctured right lung.


These conclusions identify the different factors contributing to the accident and should not be read as apportioning blame or liability to any particular person or organisation.

The injury to the rating was the result of a number of factors that, combined with the increasing sea conditions, made the anchor recovery a marginal operation:

  1. The inexperience of the ratings in anchor handling operations resulted in a lengthier operation and extended exposure time.
  2. The inexperienced ratings had to start the anchor handling operation during hours of darkness.
  3. The '24 hours a day' regime inhibited the Master from holding a lengthy operational and safety discussion with the crew before commencing anchor retrieval operations and from considering delaying operations until daylight.
  4. The lack of detailed planning resulted in the tugger wire not being deployed correctly.
  5. The solid design of the vessel's safety barrier provided very limited escape routes to the deck party, instilling an instinct to grab and hold on to the nearest object, rather than to move outboard of the barrier, or to climb up on it.
  6. The Bauer was not equipped with chain chasers, using instead an anchor buoy system, necessitating a long exposure time for the stand by vessels' crews during anchor handling operations.
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