Unfortunately, the “accident” category seems to take up a lot of the headlines here today. If I have successfully uploaded a pdf of a USCG Investigation Activity Report, you will find details about another unfortunate and horrific accident aboard a vessel in November 2019.

If you read the attached, do you have enough information to agree or disagree that the causal factors listed by the USCG are the only causal factors?

USCG Investigation Activity Report.pdf (163.0 KB)

Proves the office folks should stay in the office.


Mostly, I agree with previous poster: no visitors.

The company I work for used to own a vessel much like the one in question, with McGregor hatches that worked much the same way as the hatches used on the Winters. So I can visualize how the accident would happen. The guy shutting the hatch very often can’t see around all four sides of it.

The main cause was a manager ignorant of the dangers of the shipboard environment he was in. Sounds like he stood on a rail to get a better look down the hatch into the hold, and he then grabbed the coaming with both hands. Visually, it’s easy to see the hatch covers in motion, and you can hear them, so why he would do this is beyond me. But people do stupid stuff all the time. I feel sorry for the guy.

To freighterman1:

I’m sure you’re familiar with home and office shredding machines that automatically stop when a finger or hand touches the surface. Is it too costly or physically impractical to have a “touch” safety mechanism on the coaming? Maybe a laser system like on a garage door?

Coaming of a hatch is not a place where people typically place their hands. The accident victim was not a crewmember and I presume not an experienced seafarer. Perhaps a deckhand as a spotter covering any blind areas would suffice. This is a practice used in many other topside operations.


Crew not found at fault for an accident that was not their fault. A good example of one of the benefits of solid operational procedures. Procedures that actually make sense to follow as opposed to the CYA checklists that are so common.


It would seem to me that given the kinetic environment of a ship’s deck, a mechanical “touch system” would quickly get battered into disuse.

We have a cargo elevator system which uses a laser system to prevent people from walking under the elevator platform and getting crushed. But the laser system is out of the weather. Rain and snow play havoc with lasers, so use on a weather deck is a different story. Also, the reflectors have to be maintained. So, laser systems aren’t foolproof either.

When big things are moving, the safest system is when the operator can see all the danger points and stop the operation. When you can’t see all the danger points, closing off the areas where the operator can’t see is a good idea–as long as nothing else is going on on that section of deck, which may be impractical.

A simple aid is plenty of signage saying DON"T EVEN THINK OF PUTTING YOUR FINGERS HERE!


Better sign.


Nice sign but the little head isn’t known for having common sense and shouldn’t be trusted to do the thinking.

I have this one next to the throttle on my skiff:

Self exempted of course.


It sounds like the manager was deaf to more than requests from ship staff.

I used to have a bunch of those and these ones too:

no touch


I guess I have to agree with the CG because there’s not enough information in that short 2 page report to make any other conclusions. If it had diagrams or pictures of where exactly it happened aboard ship we would have more to discuss & learn from. Was it painted yellow? How far from a safety walkway corridor was the coaming? Him being a manager, was a visitor orientation given or decided unnecessary?


Also, too bad Dick Winters didn’t get a kickass looking ship named after him instead of that plane Jane finger chopping cargo ship.


I was wondering if this type of incident is common in the bulk carrier sector.


It’s believed, based upon information he published, the victim has a lengthy 40±year career with the company identified in the USCG Investigation Activity Report. He cites experience with chartering and MIS. I haven’t been able to confirm if he had any experience as a seafarer.

Not that the following makes him any more qualified or unqualified to be aboard a vessel, it is an interesting bit of information. He and the CEO of the company chartering the MV MAJ RICHARD WINTERS (the WINTERS) in 2019 and beyond are identified as officers and Board Members of Intrepid Sea Holdings, Inc. According to Equasis, Intrepid has been the registered owner of the US-flagged WINTERS since March 2019. The WINTERS had reflagging work completed in Texas sometime between September and the date she sailed thru Sabine Pass on or about October 17, 2019 on her way, eventually, to the port where this truly horrible and unfortunate accident took place less than a month later.

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Like I said. Office folks belong in the office.

Even if the guy had any experience at sea, it was probably 20 years ago. I worked with guys who were sailing Chief Mate and Master, go in the office for a year, and then try to tell me how to clean tanks (incorrectly). Once they go in there they just get brainwashed…

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Better than an office full of bean counters with no seagoing experience.

Having done the office myself, I would agree that Mariners tend to lose seagoing perspective and skills in the office and become more like beancounters and lawyers. Similarly, once you’ve been out of the office for awhile you lose the office perspective.

I like having good managers come aboard and sail so that they can see the operation for themselves. If a picture is worth a thousand words, being there is worth millions.

I hate having bad managers come onboard. When you are trying to make the best of their junk equipment and halfass operation, all the problems are perceived as your fault b

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This less shore vs ship side and more crew vs not crew.

If a deckie goes to the E/R, to do some task (safety equipment inspection for example) it’s good practice to go the control room first to check in. Same is true on deck, if an engineer comes out to work on deck equipment it’s good practice to get with the mate or bos’n to get oriented before tearing into some equipment.

In this case the manager likely came down on deck from the captain office or wherever and decided to involve himself with operations as a person acting independent of the crew.



“In this case the manager likely came down on deck from the captain office or wherever and decided to involve himself with operations as a person acting independent of the crew.”

Maybe acting like an anxious new ship owner?

Then that begs the question that someone else asked. Aside from the walkway markings etc, was this person given a safety briefing when aboard? Likely not, but it’s worth the ask. He should have had the keep-your-appendages-in-the-ride lecture regardless of how long he had a desk at the office.