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Summary

Summary

On 7 March 1997, the Polish flag general cargo vessel Lodz 2 was lying at no. 24 berth, Victoria Dock, Melbourne. Using one of the its own cranes, the ship was discharging a general cargo of steel products, including bundles of steel pipes, from no. 2 hold and tweendeck.

At about 0740, the sixth load of steel pipes, for that morning, was being discharged onto the wharf by no.1 crane, a 12.5 tonne capacity crane situated on the aft end of the forecastle on the ship's centreline. The crane was being driven by one of the waterside workers.

The load, weighing approximately 8.6 tonnes, consisted of 18 lengths with diameters varying up to 273 mm. As the load reached the side of the ship, there was a violent jolt and a bang as the slew bearing failed, then the crane fell from its pedestal into the port tweendeck of no. 2 hold. The jib struck the port bulwark, setting it down and out from the ship's side, while the body of the crane hit the inboard edge of the port hatch coaming, before rotating through 180 and finishing up, upside-down, in the tweendeck.

The driver was able to climb out through one of the broken cab windows and up the ladders, out of the tweendeck to the main deck, before the effects of shock caught up with him. He had fallen, in the cab of the crane, approximately 17 metres into the tweendeck from the crane's position on its pedestal.

An ambulance was called and the crane driver and a waterside worker acting as the hatchman, also suffering from shock, were taken to a medical clinic but were not detained. The crane was severely damaged and the badly twisted jib had to be cut up to remove it from the ship.

The incident was investigated by the Marine Incident Investigation Unit under the provisions of the Navigation (Marine Casualty) Regulations.

Conclusions

These conclusions identify the different factors which contributed to the circumstances and causes of the incident and should not be read as apportioning blame or liability to any particular organisation or individual.

  1. No. 1 deck crane collapsed due to a catastrophic failure of the slew ring bearing. The crane was not overloaded at the time of the failure.
  2. The slew ring bearing failed following a prolonged period of progressive wear which went undetected at any statutory survey or examination.
  3. The extreme wear which led to the bearing failure was induced largely by an almost total absence of lubrication for the bearing.
  4. The vessel had no established planned maintenance or lubrication schedules for the deck cranes.
  5. There was no record relating specifically to a measurement of the bearing clearances at any time since the vessel was built, and there was no record on board of the initial bearing clearances, by which the wear rate could have been established. 6. Damage to the jib of the crane, as witnessed by repairs, may also indicate that damage to the slew ring bearing was initiated by some earlier incident. 7. The standard of record keeping and the absence of detail in certification, together with the condition of the slew bearing of no. 1 crane at the time of the incident, would suggest that the standard of survey over the last five years had not been of an acceptable quality.
 
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