The recent death of a worker on the Duwamish Waterway in South Seattle is a grave reminder of the importance of mooring line safety. John Henry Volkmann IV was trying to tie a gravel barge at the dock of a concrete plant on East Marginal Way South, when the mooring line he was working with broke. Mr. Volkmann was struck and fell into the water. Fire crews immediately responded and recovered Mr. Volkmann from the water, but he was in critical condition. He died at the scene.
When a mooring line parts or breaks, it is like a giant rubber band breaking, and as we know from past cases and incidents, the results can be debilitating or deadly to those working with the line. This training video created by the US Navy may be dated, but it shows viewers just how dangerous a broken mooring line can be to nearby crew members.
According to a Risk Alert bulletin published by Steamship Mutual Loss Prevention, mooring lines require care, maintenance, and inspection. Steamship Mutual urges members to put a planned maintenance system in place to assure safety. Below are just a few recommendations for vessel owners: