Lifeboat winch failure during routine drill on passenger cruise ship Arcadia with 1 person injured

Location: Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

Accident Investigation Report: Arcadia

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken, and recommendations:

arcadia.pdf (376.93 kb)


On 9 December 1998 while alongside at Tenerife passenger cruise ship Arcadia conducted a routine lifeboat drill. As a lifeboat was recovered after the exercise, it lowered uncontrollably into the water still attached to the fall wires. An electrical engineer was then injured when the lifeboat falls were being wound back onto the drum.

Safety Issues

  • Schat-Harding reported that No 5 davit winch failed because the oil used in the gearbox was too viscous, preventing the coupling locking mechanism from operating. Slipping of the coupling would cause the oil to overheat. Lubricating properties would then be lost resulting in damage to running surfaces
  • The inside surface of the outer race of the freewheel clutch had severe wear, scuffing with signs of overheating
  • Having accepted that it was necessary. to by-pass the switch, compensating safety procedures. properly understood, should have been in place. The lack of planning and procedure for the situation was a contributory factor to the accident


Recommendations have been made to P&O Cruises (UK) Ltd.

This report was published in October 1999.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015