Pretoria: 07 May 2021
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has given notice that it will revise regulations relating to the utilisation of small vessels such as ski-boats to facilitate implementation of more safety measures to secure the lives of users and the general environment.
The notice published as Marine Alert MA 01-21, according to SAMSA, comes in the wake of an incident in East London earlier this year during which two young people lost control of a ski-boat and one of the youths was injured after being struck by the out of control vessel, resulting in him suffering lacerations to the face and other injuries.
The incident, according to SAMSA, occurred at about 11am on 13 January 2021 on the Nahoon River near East London. An investigation established that; “Two teenagers were operating a small (regulation 37) ski-boat on the Nahoon river when they both fell overboard into the river whilst making a sharp turn. The boat then did circles on the river and witnesses called the NSRI to assist. Whilst in the water, the boat hit one of the two teenagers who sustained lacerations to the face and injuries to the body,” reads the notice.
It further states that: “The vessel was found to have had a kill-switch which had not been in operation. There had been no SVCC (small vessel certificate of competency) aboard. The operation of a kill-switch had not occurred as intended by the manufacturer, because operation of a kill-switch on Regulation 37 vessels is not mandatory, and thus perceived as not required. There had been no adult supervision or competent skipper to oversee the vessel operation.”
According to SAMSA; “The incident had a potential loss of one fatality/permanent injury, along with damage to local jetties and other small craft that were operating in the area, and minor pollution in Marine reserve.”
SAMSA says the incident reflected on a few issues of concern including that:
- Certain Regulation 37 vessels (≤15HP) are powerful enough to tow a skier at speed and should thus be used with caution, especially if used by underaged/unqualified persons; and then only under supervision of a qualified skipper or an adult.
- When a vessel is fitted with a kill-switch, the owner/operator should operate the vessel as intended.
- Any safety device/equipment that is onboard a vessel when in operation, should be used appropriately, even if that vessel is not required by regulation to have it onboard.
In efforts to prevent potentially deadly incidents of the nature in the future, the agency states that:
“SAMSA strongly recommends that the owner/operator of any Regulation 37 vessel fitted with an operational kill-switch, should operate the kill-switch as intended. SAMSA will also revise regulations and consider the inclusion of appropriate Regulation 37 vessels in the requirements for kill-switches.”
Meanwhile, in a related Marine Alert (MA 02 21) also published this week, SAMSA reported on findings of shipping related accidents that occurred at both the port of Durban between 28 April 2020 and 26 October 2020, as well as the anchorage in Algoa Bay, and during which ropes and ladders were a common cause of slippages, resulting in injuries.
“In all four cases,” notes SAMSA; “….a fall from a height occurred. Two (2) of the four (4) incidents resulted in people being hospitalised.”
The agency restated the critical regulations governing the use of ropes and ladders on vessels at sea.
SAMSA said: “IMO Res A1045 (27) paragraph 2 lists the following requirements for ropes used in the construction of pilot ladders. Paragraph 5 lists the following requirements for hand rails at the pilot boarding area:
- The side ropes of the pilot ladder should consist of two uncovered ropes not less than18 mm in diameter on each side and should be continuous, with no joints, and have a breaking strain of at least 24 Kilo Newtons per side rope.
- Side ropes should be made of Manila or other material of equivalent strength, durability, elongation characteristics and grip which has been protected against actinic degradation and is to the satisfaction of the Administration.
- Adequate handholds should be provided at the point of embarking or disembarking from the ship via pilot ladder. These hand holds should not be spaced less than 700mm and not more than 800mm apart.”