The investigation by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) into the incident on the jack-up rig Mærsk Giant, when a lifeboat was unintentionally launched to the sea, has now been completed. Several breaches of the regulations were identified.
The rig was positioned on the Yme field in the southern North Sea. At the time of the incident, the rig was being used as living quarters by Talisman Energy Norge in connection with preparations for removing the Yme facility.
According to the PSA, a lifeboat was unintentionally launched from the jack-up rig Mærsk Giant at about 05.10 on Wednesday January 14, 2015 and this happened during testing of the lifeboat systems. Efforts were made to activate the manual brake on the lifeboat winch, but it was not working. The lifeboat entered the water and drifted beneath the unit. The steel wires holding it were eventually torn off.
After the incident, the lifeboat drifted away from Mærsk Giant, accompanied by a standby vessel. The lifeboat eventually reached land at Obrestad south of Stavanger. Nobody was in the lifeboat when the incident occurred, and no personnel were injured.
The PSA resolved to conduct an investigation. This aimed to clarify the course of events, the direct and underlying causes, and the actual and potential consequences, and to identify possible breaches of the regulations.
The investigation has established that the direct cause of the incident was a reduction in the braking effect of the brake on the lifeboat winch owing to faulty adjustment.
Should the manual brake fail during maintenance with people in the lifeboat, or during actual evacuation, serious personal injury or deaths could have been suffered, the PSA said.
Furthermore, should the lifeboat have begun to descend during an actual evacuation, a partially filled lifeboat could have reached the sea without a lifeboat captain on board. The PSA also considers it likely that people would have been at risk of falling from the lifeboat or the muster area should a descent have begun. The potential consequence could be fatalities.
Five non-conformities were identified by this investigation. These are related to:
– maintenance routines for the lifeboat davit system training;
– procedures relating to lifeboats and evacuation;
– periodic programme for competent control and ensuring the expertise of personnel carrying out maintenance work;
– qualification and follow-up of contractors.
The jack-up Mærsk Giant is operated by Maersk Drilling Norge. The PSA has now asked the company to describe how these non-conformities will be dealt with.