The International Marine Contractors Associationhas published a safety guidelines for Offshore Vessels when docks in port and harbours.

Ship enter and leave ports regularly. Tying up a ship when alongside a berth or another vessel is potentially a very hazardous operation unless simple and effective safety procedures are followed. Mooring accidents are always on the list of personal injury accidents, often resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities.

These are very simple guidelines marked by common sense, but that it can save of serious accidents and even human lives.

For the mooring safety, the people involved in the operation has to have in mind several factors. We are going to look at these factors, according the Safety Guide of IMCA (IMCA M 214).

Planning the Operation

The key to safe and effective mooring operations is planning and ensuring that appropiate procedures are followed. A mooring operation risk assessment should always be carried out. Suitable controls and procedures should be in place to minimise the risks identified for this operation. The use of tollbox talks to discuss the operation and the hazards involved is an effective way to help reduce accidents. It may seem like an unnecessary task to undertake, as mooring is a routine operation that most crew are very familiar with. However, this is the danger, as familiarity and complacency can lead to a mistake and an accident.

Who is in Charge?

The person in charge or directing the mooring operation at each mooring station on deck should be easily identifiable and heard clearly by the rest of the mooring team. Consideration should be given to issuing the person in charge with a different coloured high visibility vest and/or a different coloured safety helmet. Occasionally the Master issues instructions from the bridge to a dedicated person in charge at each mooring station. The change out of mooring operation personnel, for example, due to shift change, should be avoided until the mooring operation is complete.


Communication between the mooring team is a key part of mooring procedures. VHF, talk back systems, hand signals and verbal communication are normally used. Be aware of any language barriers which can lead to miscommunication and an unintended action that may result in an accident. Always ensure that emergency signals and procedures are understood and well-practiced. Ensure that after an instruction has been given or received it is repeated back to confirm it has been fully understood. Training should be carried out in these procedures.

Personal Protective Equipment

The mooring team should always be wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). This should be verified by the team leader/person in charge. If the incorrect PPE is worn then the person should not be allowed to take part in the mooring operation until correctly attired. Typical PPE consits of the following items: coverall; safey boots; safety helmet; high visibility vest; gloves and buoyancy vest if working near shipside or quayside.

Danger Zones

Be aware of snap back zones and potential pinch points. The use of deck markings can greatly assist in the identification of these zones. Try to use common sense during mooring operations and if you can see a dangeorus situation developing make sure that the stop signal is given. It is better to be safe than to ignore a dangerous situation. Do not forget that your view of the mooring operation may be different to that of others and you may be the only person who sees the development of a dangerous situation. Ensure all crew that carry out mooring operations are trained in the identification and understanding of snap back zones.

Condition of Mooring Lines

Mooring lines should always be examined regularly for damage and records maintained. If in doubt over the condition of a mooring line, ensure that it is inspected by a competent person. When handling mooring lines particular attention should be paid to signs of fraying, any damage and signs of corrosion.


The following are known to have caused personal injury whilst mooring:

  • Oil – slipping on oil from mooring equipment. Ensure that the equipment is well maintained and that working decks are coated with an appropiate anti-slip coating

  • Ice – even though the deck may be coated in an anti-slip coating, a layer of ice may be present that introduces a slip hazard. Ensure when mooring in cold water that the risk assessment includes snow or ice risks.

  • Ship side – be aware of leaning on or over ship side handrails or bulwarks. Personnel have fallen over the ship side during mooring operations.

  • Lighting – inadequate lighting during mooring operations can cause accidents. Ensure that all working areas are adequately iluminated and that no shadows are cast from lighting that may hide potential hazards.

  • Elevated winch gratings – make sure that all gratings and supports are in good condition. Ensure that any steps for access to and from them are also inspected for signs or corrosion/damage.

Environmental Conditions

Poor weather can have a big impact on mooring operation safety as follows:

  • Ice – the formation of ice and snow can cause skin abrasions or cuts and will reduce the mobility of the affected person.

  • Wind, currents and tides – any of these can affect the movement of the ship. Excessive strain can be put on mooring lines and this may cause them to break. Pay particular attention to the snap back zones and vessel movement during mooring operations in these conditions. Gusting wind can also knock a person off balance.

  • Fog – this reduces visibility and may make visual communication difficult with the persons ashore or on another vessel. Ensure that a good communication link is established and tested before mooring in these conditions. The risk assessment should take into consideration poor visibility.

  • Cold wether clothing – if personnel are inadequately dressed this can have a great impact on concentration and mobility, which in turn may lead to an accident. Always ensure that you are appropiately dressed for the weather conditions.

Vessels Assisting

Tugs and small workboats are often used when mooring a vessel. Ensure that good communication between vessels is established and is tested. Remember the possibility of language barriers in these instances. When passing lines from the vessel to the assisting vessel or to the quayside, ensure that the heaving line “monkey´s fist” does not include additional weight. It has been known for steel weights to have been added to these lines to enable them to be thrown further. This practice has been a cause of injury including causing serious head injuries.

Quay Access

Safe access to and from the vessel to the quay or another vessel may be required if personnel are not available to assist in the mooring operation. Means of safe access may include a gangway, pilot ladder to tender boat or a basket transfer. In all cases ensure that the equipment used for personnel transfer is well maintained and has a valid test certificate. Do not jump from the vessel to the quay or other vessel or use any other non-approved method other than the aforementioned and always use a buoyancy aid. Lives have been lost through failures to follow safe access procedures.

Many people who read this paper will remember some form of mooring incident. Whether it be a near miss or an accident, it should serve as a reminder that mooring and casting off a vessel is a potentially hazardous operation that should always be well planned by way of risk assessments and comprehensive procedures. The maintenance of all ship´s equipment is important, but it appears that mooring equipment can sometimes be forgotten about. Look after all your mooring equipment and procedures, it should contribute to a safer operation.

Remember: safety is first.


What are the 6 steps of safe mooring operations? ›

Ensuring the ideal mooring operation, it is important to follow the steps below:
  • Calculate Estimated Life Expectancy.
  • Set Retirement Criteria.
  • Set Intervals for Routine, Detailed Inspection.
  • Request 3rd-party assistance for Inspections.
  • Residue Strength Testing.
Dec 13, 2019

What is a proper procedure of mooring? ›

The berthing position is approached at a 90-degree angle. The starboard anchor is released at a determined location as the ship moves forward. When the ship stops, the port-side anchor is released, thereby positioning the poop along the central line bifurcating the buoys.

What are the 4 common types of mooring arrangement onboard ship? ›

Some common mooring methods used for ships are Mediterranean mooring, Baltic mooring, Running mooring, Standing mooring, Spider mooring buoys, Single-point or single buoy mooring, Conventional or multi buoy mooring, Ship to Ship Mooring.

What are the three 3 basic mooring line types? ›

The most commonly used mooring lines are made of polyester, polyamide, also known as nylon, and polypropylene. All three materials have their advantages and disadvantages.

What are the 3 methods of mooring? ›

Types of mooring methods

There are three alternatives: stern-to, bow-to and side-on mooring. Each of them has its pros and cons that every boat owner should consider when mooring both as regards the ease of boarding and the difficulties due to maneuvers.

What are the 4 basic safe working practices onboard? ›

Seek permission before entering. Wear appropriate safety clothing and a safety helmet. Take great care as the cargo may have shifted during the voyage, particularly if the sea has been rough. Remember: refer to your national legislation and guidance when working in this dangerous environment.

What are the hazards during mooring operation? ›

Mooring Operation Dangers

A vessel's mooring area contains equipment and systems such as hydraulic motors, winches, piping valves, bollards, and anchor chains. Often, lines used during the process have the potential to break, causing them to snap back with significant—and often deadly—force.

What are the important things to remember during mooring operation on ships? ›

Check All the Mooring Equipment: Check all the equipment (mooring winch, drums, windlass etc.) involved in the mooring operation for any kind of problem. Proper routine maintenance is the key to ensure smooth running of mooring equipment and systems. Don't forget to check the load sensors of mooring winches.

What is the principles of ship mooring system? ›

The principle to be followed, regardless of the size of the vessel, is to restrain movement to within acceptable limits by means of an adequate number of mooring lines, which can be readily handled by the operating personnel, compatible with the conditions of wind, tide, weather and other effects likely to be ...

What are the things needed to be aware in advance before mooring operation? ›

2 During the mooring operation the mooring crew need to be aware of the ship movement, the ships lines (ropes) and the condition of the tide.

What is 3 2 2 mooring arrangement? ›

... mooring layout at Berth 5 is 3-2-2 for the number of bow/stern lines, breast lines and spring lines on either side of the ship. This is shown in Figure 2, although the spring lines are not very clear in the picture. The two bollards to the south of the berth are used for the stern lines and aft breast lines. ...

What is the best mooring system? ›

- Helix anchors

They allow for optimum protection of marine wildlife and habitat thus are considered the best eco-mooring systems. Because they're screwed into the ground they offer the most holding power, with 4-5 times the holding strength of other mooring systems.

What lines should go ashore first? ›

In most mooring operations, the first lines are required to get and hold the vessel in position until the remaining mooring lines are sent ashore and vessel is safely moored. This could lead to the first lines, usually the fore and aft spring lines, experiencing significant loads.

What is the most important part during mooring operations? ›

The key to safe and effective mooring operations is planning and ensuring that appropiate procedures are followed. A mooring operation risk assessment should always be carried out. Suitable controls and procedures should be in place to minimise the risks identified for this operation.

What knot is used most often in mooring? ›

The bowline creates a fixed loop at the end of a rope, making it useful for fastening a mooring line to a ring or post on shore. It's the most commonly used knot on all boats. The sheet bend is used to join two different ropes together.

What is the strongest mooring line? ›

Nylon is initially the strongest mooring rope but it is a widely held belief that it loses 10-15% when thoroughly wet which brings it back to relative parity with polyester. Polyester has better UV resistance than nylon which means that it builds a small advantage each season resulting in a longer working life.

What is 4 point mooring vessel? ›

For projects where frequent moves are not required, four-point mooring vessels offer safe, secure and comfortable platforms for performing subsea operations. A moored vessel is ideal for shallow-water diving and operations with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

What is the typical mooring arrangement? ›

The mooring arrangement depends on the size of the ships. A vessel either at anchor or stopped and maintaining a constant heading is approached by the manoeuvring ship at an angle of approach as smaller as practicable. The region of approach is usually abaft the beam of the constant heading ship.

How long can you stay at a mooring? ›

It may be at a visitor mooring (subject to time limits displayed at the site) or anywhere else along the towpath where, if unsigned, the maximum stay time is 14 days. It's usually best to moor against the towpath or on signed visitor moorings. Many riverbanks and the non-towpath side of canals are private property.

What are the 10 safety protocol? ›

Top Ten Workplace Safety Tips
  • 1) Reduce Workplace Stress. ...
  • 2) Use Tools and Machines Properly. ...
  • 3) Use Mechanical Aids When Possible. ...
  • 4) Wear Protective Equipment. ...
  • 5) Stay Sober. ...
  • 6) Be Aware of Your Surroundings. ...
  • 7) Correct Posture Protects Your Back. ...
  • 8) Be Alert and Awake.

What are 5 basic safety rules? ›

The most complex safety topics boil down to these simple safety rules.
  • Always wear your seatbelt when in a vehicle or heavy equipment. ...
  • Always inspect equipment and tools. ...
  • Always use fall protection when working at heights. ...
  • Stay of out the blind spots of heavy equipment. ...
  • Never put yourself in the line of fire.
Nov 22, 2019

What is the common causes accident in mooring operation? ›

The highest number of injuries and deaths during a mooring operation on a ship are due to the parting of the rope or wire hitting back to a crew member standing in the area of the rope. The area traveled by the parted rope having a force enough to kill a person on its way is known as the snap back zone.

How do you prevent operational hazards during mooring and unmooring? ›

Dangers when mooring and unmooring
  1. Always have a 'toolbox talk' prior to any mooring/unmooring operation and keep to the agreements made;
  2. Follow the correct (agreed) sequence;
  3. Always stand clear of areas where you can be hit by a breaking line or a jumping line;
Aug 1, 2003

What is the safety factor of mooring line? ›

Based on Ultimate Limit State (whereby each individual mooring line has adequate strength to withstand extreme environmental conditions), and based upon Consequence Class 1 (a failure is unlikely to lead to unacceptable consequences such as loss of life), a maximum safety factor of 1.7 is suggested.

What does Meg 4 say about the mooring equipment? ›

The guidance within MEG is sure to enhance the safety of mooring from the design of mooring arrangements using a Human Centred Design approach and an increased focus on the use and understanding of mooring lines and tails.

What are the 3 basic motion of the ship? ›

The Three Rotational Ship Motions
  • Yawing (Vertical rotation – Z-axis)
  • Rolling (Longitudinal rotation – X-axis)
  • Pitching (Transverse rotation – Y-axis)
May 29, 2021

What do you think are the safe procedures during mooring and unmooring? ›

Actions to be taken during mooring and unmooring operations,

If this involves the use of portable radios, then the ship should be clearly identified by name to prevent confusion with other users. Appropriate PPE should be in place for seafarers' protection (including safety helmet, safety shoes and gloves)

What is the purpose of mooring line 1? ›

The main function of mooring lines is to hold a ship fast to her berth against the effects of wind and current or other forces. If the mooring lines are adjusted properly, wind or current loading on the lines is a static load. If you try to use a line to stop a moving ship, that is a dynamic load.

What do yellow moorings mean? ›

Yellow buoys identify a private mooring. Moorings are often identified on local maps or charts, or see the private mooring map. You must have a licence or be authorised to use private, commercial or emergency moorings. For more information or to apply for a licence, see moorings.

What is the purpose of mooring line 5? ›

A ship is secured to a mooring to forestall free movement of the ship on the water.
Mooring to a shore fixture.
5Aft breast lineKeep close to pier
6Stern linePrevent forwards movement
5 more rows

What is the best mooring anchor? ›

Mushroom Anchor: the most common type of mooring anchor is the mushroom, which, under ideal conditions, with the right kind of bottom, can dig in, create suction and develop good holding power. Mushroom anchors work best in a silt or mud bottom, and are not as effective in rocks or coarse sand.

How heavy should a mooring be? ›

A weight of 10 times boat length is a good rule of thumb. The heavier the better, as long as you don't have to move it. Heavy objects like concrete blocks can't dig in, so their weight should be more than needed. For boats less than 25' in length the mooring should weigh 200 lbs.

How much tension should be on a mooring line? ›

The tension that occurs in the mooring line is in the 2000 to 7000 kN value range. The safety factor value ranges from 2 to 3.

What is the length of the mooring lines as a general rule? ›

When calculating the length of your mooring line, it is possible to follow a general rule of thumb. For bow lines and stern lines, the length of the line should be at least half the length of your boat. For spring lines, the length should be the full length of the boat or longer.

Should mooring lines be tight? ›

Keep springs tight to avoid movement fore and aft, that's what they are there for. Bow and stern lines should not be too short or tight to avoid jerking. Ensure your lines are of a suitable breaking strain.

What are the operating principles of mooring winch? ›

The power source of the automatic mooring winch is electric and hydraulic. The basic principle is winch drum applied a adjustable torque, in order to maintain a balance of mooring line tension caused by vessel moment.

What is 4 point mooring system? ›

4-Point Mooring System. The Four-Point Mooring System consists of components and hardware necessary to assemble four identical mooring legs. Each leg consists of an anchor, anchor chain, wire ropes, mooring buoy, crown buoy, and rigging hardware.

What are the hazards during mooring station? ›

hazards such as save-alls, windlass platforms, forecastle access hatch and bitts. markings. Highlighting hazards is particularly important for the safety of crew that are new to the vessel, cadets and other trainees, and visitors.

What are the safeties in mooring winches? ›

The safety device of the hydraulic mooring winch is mainly composed of a lever set, a hydraulic cylinder, a handle, a fixing bracket, a seat board and a brake.

What is the difference between a mooring winch and windlass? ›

The difference between a winch and a windlass is that the line wraps around and around the cylindrical portion of a winch; whereas the line goes into the forward end of the windlass, passes around the gypsy (cylinder/drum/pulley) and exits out the back (or bottom) of the windlass housing.

What is the meaning of 3 2 2 in the mooring arrangements? ›

... mooring layout at Berth 5 is 3-2-2 for the number of bow/stern lines, breast lines and spring lines on either side of the ship. This is shown in Figure 2, although the spring lines are not very clear in the picture. The two bollards to the south of the berth are used for the stern lines and aft breast lines. ...

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