After the British Simon Speirs, 60, died at the Clipper Round the World Race in November of last year, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is now issuing a safety warning about the use of safety lines.
On November 18th, as part of the Clipper Race, the "Great Britain" was en route from Cape Town to Fremantle in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Simon Speirs helped change sails on the foredeck when he went overboard with gusts of up to 40 knots in turbulent seas and winds of 20 knots. The crew of the "Great Britain" reacted quickly, but was only able to rescue the 60-year-old dead after 36 minutes.
Figure 2 from the MAIB investigation report: Example of two safety line hooks (on the right after lateral loading)
The investigation of the accident by the MAIB showed that Speirs fell overboard although he was picked up with his safety line. After the rescue, the lifeline was still hooked onto the life jacket, but the hook with which Speirs was secured to the line on board was badly bent. The investigation report further states that the hook was certified according to ISO12401 and should actually withstand a load of over a ton. The hook on the victim's safety line got caught under a cleat on deck. When the accident victim lost his balance due to the movement of the ship and then jerked the lifeline, a lateral force acted on it. But this is only designed for tensile loads; Due to the lateral force it bent and loosened from the line, whereupon Speirs fell overboard.
Figure 1 from the MAIB's investigation report: Representation of the safety line hook caught under the deck cleat
The MAIB safety notice therefore states that in future, when using safety lines, sailors should pay particular attention to the fact that the hook at their end cannot get caught on cleats and deck fittings.