Three time a chief engineered refused a lifejacket as he attempted to transfer from a snow and ice-covered launch to the oil and chemical tanker OW Copenhagen using the pilot ladder. He boasted that he had never worn a lifejacket. He fell from the pilot ladder and drowned.
Seawater temperature was at freezing point and air temperature was about -5 °C.
His body was taken from the sea 50 minutes later.
Says the Danish Maritime Authority report: “On 1 February 2010 at approximately 1700 hours, the launch MARTIN N was engaged to transfer a chief engineer who had been on leave from shore to the oil and chemical tanker OW COPENHAGEN that was at anchor on Copenhagen roads.
”The chief engineer refused to don a lifejacket when urged to so by the launch skipper and later on also by two crewmembers on the tanker who were ready at the pilot ladder to receive and assist the chief engineer.
When shifting from the launch to the tanker, the chief engineer suddenly lost his grip on the pilot ladder and fell into the water without a sound.
”The launch was manned by the skipper only, and he managed to fetch the chief engineer. But due to the cold he could hold him for 5 -10 minutes only.
”The MOB boat from OW COPENHAGEN was launched, and a search and rescue operation was initiated with the participation of several vessels, another MOB boat from a ro-ro passenger ship and a rescue helicopter.
”The chief engineer was recovered after approximately 50 minutes and showed no
signs of life and soon after, when taken to hospital by helicopter, he was declared
Obviously, had he worn a lifejacket and immersion suit he may have survived.
Pilot ladders are not the best way to board a ship when other means are available.
The launch was undermanned, with just the skipper aboard and it was impossible to both control the launch and recover the falling chief officer.