Capstan locking device failure on general cargo ship Opnor with loss of 1 life

Location: Lerwick Harbour, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Opnor

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Registered Owner & Manager:   Janus Andersen & Co
Port of registry:   Aabenraa
Flag:   Denmark
Type:   General cargo, single deck
Built:   1962
Classification society:   Bureau Veritas
Length overall:   50.78
Gross tonnage:   398.00
Date & Time   03/11/02 05:26
Location of incident:   Lerwick harbour area
Incident Type:   Accident to Person
Persons onboard:   4 crew
Injuries/ fatalities:   1 fatality
Damage:   Minor damage


The aft capstan winding handle struck a fatal blow to a crewman’s head when the capstan locking devices failed while alongside at Lerwick in heavy weather.

Action taken:

The Chief Inspector wrote to the vessel owner highlighting three safety issues, making reference to:

  • No planned maintenance system on board

  • The need for crew to be vigilant to defects, regardless of any other inspections carried out

  • Effective defect reporting procedures

The Danish Maritime Authority and MCA were copied the letter sent to the owner.

The Classification society for the vessel and the Procurator Fiscal were also advised of the safety issues.

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