Department for Transport

Safety Alert - Technical No. 2


Recently a serious accident occurred on a domestic passenger vessel when a mooring hook being used for “quick mooring” failed and this led to serious injury of a crew member. The vessel was “steaming on a single spring” at the time.

Operators of all vessels utilising quick mooring techniques should ensure that an adequate RISK ASSESSMENT has been carried out before using quick methods of mooring. Amongst items to be considered should be:

  • INSPECTION & SERVICE of all components of mooring equipment at regular intervals.
  • ASSESS the mooring ropes, fittings and deck equipment for the additional loads that they are subject to whilst the vessel is “steaming on a spring” given the prevailing conditions.
  • USE of only warps and quick mooring equipment that is fit for purpose.
  • Special fittings should be DESIGNED and manufactured to withstand a greater breaking load than the warp to which they are attached, and tested as appropriate.
  • When loading or unloading passengers, vessels should, whenever possible, be PROPERLY SECURED alongside using ropes fore and aft in addition to any "steaming on a spring". Otherwise failure of a single component or the engines could result in the vessel moving and increasing the risk to passengers.
  • If engine use use is needed to maintain position ensure that only the MINIMUM POWER necessary to keep the vessel in position is used.
  • CARE to ensure that undue strain is not put on mooring equipment.
  • Being particularly vigilant if NYLON WARPS are used; these can fail without warning and recoil with particular force.
  • KEEPING personnel and passengers clear of “snap-back zones” when equipment is under load, where practical.


  • Mooring equipment is of adequate Safe Working Load
  • All mooring equipment should be checked regularly as part of the vessels Safety Management System.
  • Vessels secured fore and aft when loading or unloading passengers.
  • Mooring lines are properly secured to adequate mooring points.
  • All persons kept clear of moorings under load and out of “snap-back zones”, where practical.
  • All staff to be aware of the hazards of the operation and any risk reduction measures in place.

For further information please contact Shipping Safety Branch,
Maritime & Coastguard Agency
Tel: +44 (023) 8032 9417
Issued: January 2005