Felixstowe: Seaman died after “slipping on ice” on cargo hold hatch

A CREW member who plunged 25 metres to his death on board a ship berthed at Felixstowe port probably slipped on a patch of ice, say investigators.

Able Bodied Seaman Jose Gonzalez fell into a cargo hold on board the vessel MV Tempanos. He died from multiple injuries.

Experts from the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau have recommended that safety meetings are held between shore side staff from the Port of Felixstowe and vessel crews before loading starts to ensure they are fully aware of safety issues.

In its report on the accident, which happened last December, the MAIB says no-one saw 30-year-old Mr Gonzalez fall.

“There were no witnesses to the accident, but the available evidence indicated that he probably slipped on a patch of ice while walking across a hatch cover that was partially covering an open hold,” said the report.

“The investigation found that it was occasional practice for some crew members on Tempanos to walk across hatch covers above partly open holds.

“Although there was clear guidance available regarding safe cargo operations on container ships, it was not always communicated to vessels calling at Felixstowe.

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“Tempanos’s safety management system did not contain sufficient guidance or instructions to the crew about the hazards of walking on partially open hatch covers.

“A recommendation has been made to the ship’s management company to review its safe working procedures.

“The container terminal’s managers have also been recommended to conduct safety meetings with the crews of container vessels prior to commencing cargo work.”

Mr Gonzalez was part of a crew of 24 Chilean and East European nationals on the 300-metre long vessel.

“Reputed to be hardworking and conscientious, he was in line for promotion to the rank of bosun during his contract on Tempanos. He was well liked by his shipmates for his helpful nature and good leadership qualities,” said the MAIB.

Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs at the Port of Felixstowe, said: “We treat the safety of all workers on the port as an absolute priority. We have received the MAIB report and we are in discussions with them on the best way to implement their recommendations.”.