Crush incident involving a falling hatch cover on general cargo vessel SMN Explorer with loss of 1 life

Location: Alexandra Dock, King's Lynn, England.

Accident Investigation Report 21/2018

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 21-2018: SMN Explorer

SMN Explorer


A crewman from the Liberian registered general cargo vessel, SMN Explorer, died when he was crushed by a falling hatch cover. The crewman was part of a working party stowing cargo slings used for the discharge of the ship’s cargo. The accident occurred when the crewman climbed up the inside of the open hatch cover after its locking pins had been removed.

Safety issues

  • the crewman walked under, and climbed up an unsecured hatch cover
  • the accident occurred because the routine deck operation was not adequately planned or supervised
  • the vessel’s safety management system was immature; some routine deck operations had not been risk assessed and safe systems of work had not been developed
  • the vessel’s lifting appliances had not been properly maintained
  • a weak safety culture was evident on board SMN Explorer


Recommendations (2018/134, 2018/135 and 2018/136) have been made to the vessel’s managers to improve the system of work for closing SMN Explorer’s foredeck hatch; and, across its managed fleet, take steps both to improve the safety culture on board and, specifically, improve the maintenance management of lifting appliances.

Published 13 December 2018