The Eighth District Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) of the Outer Continental Shelf issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin 19-04, “Lifeboat operations on manned facilities,” to alert offshore operators about a tragic accident with loss of life that occurred on a floating offshore facility. At the time of the accident, the crew was exercising their lifeboat in accordance with the regularly scheduled maintenance and training plan.
In the process of retrieving the lifeboat, while the lifeboat was level with the facility’s loading deck and personnel were transitioning from the lifeboat back onto the facility, an incident occurred causing the lifeboat and personnel to fall approximately 75 feet to the water.
A Coast Guard investigation to determine causal factors that contributed to this incident is ongoing. Because the potential factors involved in this incident may be common to many facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf, immediate and positive action need not await the results of the investigation.
It is recommended that all owners, operators, and masters immediately complete the following:
- Review the company’s maintenance procedures for lifeboats and ensure they adhere to manufacture criteria for the model and make of lifeboats, davits, and other installed lifesaving equipment.
- Take a proactive approach to ensure your personnel are properly trained in the inspection, maintenance and use of their lifesaving equipment.
Operators are also encouraged to review USCG D8(ocs) Policy Letter 04-2016, Rev 1 titled “Inspections of Emergency Evacuation Drills on Manned Facilities with Lifeboats (Boats)” and contact the District 8 OCS OCMI at 504-671-2106 or OCSCorrespondence@uscg.mil should they desire to pursue an alternative to lifeboat loading in the Gulf of Mexico.
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.
The D8 policy letter allows operators to submit alternatives for lifeboat testing, loading, and launching which is good because the regulations for OCS facilities (production platforms) are dated, ambiguous and mostly inadequate for modern day offshore production operations. Lifeboat operations off of platforms are much more challenging than launching from a ship. A ship can satisfy their launching requirement in the protection of a harbor, ship’s lee, or at the dock. A platform is fully exposed to the elements and the boat cannot be stabilized by a hull or via a painter line. The air drafts are greater, the boats tend to be larger…the entire practice of operating lifeboats in the GOM needs to be brought in line with best practices from other well-regulated offshore areas. Unfortunately it seems it always takes tragedy to compel change…and here we are. I hope both the industry and the USCG learn from this and quickly implement positive changes.