5/31/2018: Marine Safety Alert – Bollard failures at marine facilities


Photos of damaged bollardsThe Office of Investigations and Analysis released Marine Safety Alert 06-18, “Don’t Let Your Vessel Get Underway Unexpectedly: Bollard Failures at Marine Facilities,” to inform mariners of recent reports of shore side marine bollard failures whereby moored vessels were cast adrift.

In some cases this resulted in damage to the involved vessel as well as other nearby vessels and shore side structures. Thankfully, there were no related injuries or deaths. Neither the Coast Guard nor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulatory oversight over these items.

In several cases the underlying deficient material condition of the bollards was unknown until the failures occurred. Causes include the rotting of organic bollards made of marine pilings, the undetected fracture of bollard castings due to manufacturer defects, damage from previous overloads, or the degradation of bollard foundations and fasteners. Typically, the failures are associated with abnormal dynamic loads transferred to the bollard from a vessel.

The abnormal loads are oftentimes caused by excessive winds acting against the sail area of vessels which can be substantial for certain types of vessels such as container and cruise ships. Forces developed by winds acting against a vessel’s hull rise exponentially as the wind speed increases and, as a result, are often extreme. Also, vessel operators often encounter facilities that have an insufficient number of bollards or not enough bollards in the correct locations to ensure good marine mooring practices are followed. Finally, circumstances associated with bollard failures may relate to the hydrodynamics of narrow waterways, specifically when a large vessel approaches and passes a moored vessel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NAVAL Facilities Engineering Command and Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency have developed a helpful document on this topic titled Unified Facilities Criteria “Inspection of Mooring Hardware” UFC 4-150-08i. This handbook provides naval facilities guidance for the planning, inspection, assessment, and reporting of mooring hardware conditions.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that facility owners and operators take steps to develop a routine inspection program for bollards and other mooring equipment. Furthermore, vessel personnel should report discoveries of apparently deficient shore side mooring equipment to facility managers.

This Safety Alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational or material requirement. Developed by the, Sector Boston Investigations Division. Distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

Categories: Safety

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply