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Two Injured in Lifeboat Drill Aboard New British Polar Research Vessel

sir david attenborough
RRS Sir David Attenborough (BAS / Capt Will Whatley)

Published Mar 15, 2021 7:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two people have been injured in a lifeboat accident aboard the new polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough, the vessel's operator has confirmed. 

In a statement to the BBC, the British Antarctic Survey said that on March 4, "a lifeboat failed to deploy correctly during testing." Two people received minor injuries in the incident. 

To protect patient confidentiality, BAS said, it will not disclose the identities of the injured personnel. 

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has launched an inquiry into the circumstances of the incident. In a brief description, MAIB said that the crewmembers were inside the lifeboat when it rolled onto its side and fell overboard during a launching drill at Loch Buie, Scotland. 

Lifeboat and rescue boat drills have historically ranked among the most hazardous evolutions in the seagoing profession, rivalling towing operations and underway pilot ladder boardings in the statistical level of risk. After many years of fatal accidents caused by the malfunction/mistimed function of on-load release mechanisms, unsafe working practices and human error, the IMO adopted new regulations on lifeboat and rescue boat drills, which took effect on January 1, 2020. The intention of the new regulation is to give seafarers more confidence in the reliability of IMO-mandated life-saving equipment.

In December, two crewmembers of the bulker Blue Bosporus were injured when a lifeboat unexpectedly released during a drill off Vancouver, B.C. They were evacuated and transported to a hospital with "significant injuries."