Crush incident while bulk carrier Fitnes was self-discharging cargo with loss of 1 life

Location: Northfleet, River Thames, England.

Completed PE Summary: Fitnes

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Vessel name:   Fitnes
Registered owner:   Hartmann HJ
Port of registry:   St Johns
Flag:   Antigua and Barbuda
Type:   Self-discharging bulk carrier
Built:   2010 in Germany
Construction:   Steel
Length overall:   175.6m
Gross tonnage:   20,234
Date & time:   4 October 2010, 0045 (UTC+2)
Location of incident:   Northfleet, River Thames
Incident type:   Accident to person
Persons on board:   17
Injuries/fatalities:   Fatal injuries to one person
Damage/pollution:   None


During self-discharging operations of a cargo of slag, the wiper called the cargo control room on his personal radio set to report that he was on watch in the conveyor belt tunnels, which were beneath the cargo holds. About 45 minutes later, the chief officer went down to the tunnels to make his routine rounds of the self-discharging system. When he reached the after end of the port side conveyor belt, he found the wiper’s body between the conveyor belt roller and a supporting beam. The chief officer activated the emergency conveyor belt stop system and called for help. Although the emergency services were quickly on scene, the wiper had already died of his injuries.

Action taken

  • In accordance with Chapter 10 of the IMO Casualty Investigation Code, the Chief Inspector has written to the Antigua and Barbuda administration, which is conducting a marine safety investigation, making the following observations:
    • There were no written risk assessments on board.
    • There was no written job description for the deceased on watchkeeping in the tunnels during cargo discharge operations.
  • HJH Shipmanagement is in the process of installing enhanced guarding around exposed conveyor belt machinery and now requires two crew members to work together on tunnel watchkeeping duties.

Published: November 2010


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