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Summary

Summary

On 20 January 2001, the Maltese flag, panamax bulk cargo carrier Alianthos arrived at the anchorage in Corio Bay, Geelong, after an uneventful voyage from Shanghai, China. The ship was in ballast and intending to load a full cargo of grain at the Geelong grain loader.

On 23 January, the master made the decision to conduct an 'abandon ship' drill while the vessel was at anchor waiting to berth. The drill commenced at 1018 and was completed by 1140. The master was not satisfied with some aspects of the crew's performance during the drill. He ordered that all crew were to receive further instruction, and complete another 'abandon ship' drill, the following day.

The 'abandon ship' drill commenced at 1700 the following day. Both port and starboard lifeboats were prepared, lowered to the water and taken away from the ship by crews who had not been in one of the boats the previous day. The third mate was assigned as the officer in charge of the port lifeboat.

When the port lifeboat returned to the ship, there was some delay in reconnecting the falls to the boat's on-load release hooks. After some time, the third mate gave the order to raise the boat from the water. The crew then disembarked at the embarkation deck and the boat was raised and secured at the head of the davit.

At the master's request, the mate continued to instruct members of the ship's catering and engineering staff who were not conversant with some aspects of the operation of the lifeboats. Once the mate had finished instructing the crew, they prepared the empty port lifeboat for lowering to the embarkation deck.

At 1742, one of the motormen was instructed to operate the davit winch to lower the port lifeboat. The motorman, who had not operated the davit before, lifted the winch brake handle and started to lower the boat. The boat moved more quickly than usual down from the housed position, resulting in the davit cradles coming to an abrupt stop as they reached deck level.

When the davit cradles hit their stops, the boat was seen to jerk sharply. At this instant, the after fall released from its on-load release hook. The stern of the lifeboat fell, swinging on the remaining forward fall. As the weight of the whole boat came onto the forward davit cradle it buckled and the boat made hard contact with the side of the ship. The starboard side of the lifeboat was cracked and holed by the contact. The forward fall and hook continued to hold the weight of the lifeboat, which had come to rest with its stern above the port gangway. There were no crew inside the lifeboat and consequently no injuries as a result of the incident.

After assessing the damage to the lifeboat and its davit, the master instructed the crew to use the after stores crane to raise the stern of the lifeboat and secure it alongside the ship. Alianthos berthed on the morning of 26 January with the lifeboat still suspended in this fashion.

 
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