Industry comes together to raise awareness of the harm caused by Dangerously Weighted Heaving Lines

The British Tugowners Association along with seven other organisations, including the UK Chamber of Shipping, has issued a notice against the continued illegal use of Dangerously Weighted Heaving Lines (DWHLs) in UK ports and harbours. 

The use of DWHLs is a significant concern to the maritime community. The use of DWHL when thrown by ship’s crew passing mooring ropes or retrieving a messenger line is dangerous and has caused serious injury.

DWHLs are a significant safety hazard and have the potential to cause serious or fatal injury and cannot be an accepted activity in UK ports and harbours. Indeed, instances could lead to a fine or criminal prosecution of a ship’s master.

Commenting on the reissued notice, Scott Baker, Chair of the British Tugowners Association said:

“Regrettably, this is an issue which continues to affect tug crews and stevedores around the country and indeed globally. Safety to personnel must override convenience and the BTA welcomes the collaborative and cooperative approach the whole UK maritime sector is taking in raising awareness of this illegal practice.”

UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti said:

“Safety is and must continue to be of paramount importance for those across the shipping and maritime sector. There is no necessity or justification for the use of Dangerously Weighted Heaving Lines in UK ports and harbours, and vessels found to be using them may expect follow up action from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. The new notice demonstrates the maritime sector’s commitment to call out bad practice and to strive for the safety of those working on board tugs or in ports.”

The signatories call for ship owners, managers, agents, port operators and pilots to assist in eradicating the use of DWHL by the following:

1)             Informing all incoming vessels of their duty to follow the Code of Safe Working Practices (COSWP)

2)             Issuing them with MCA Safety Bulletin No. 2

3)             Stressing that fines, Port State Control Inspections, and criminal prosecution are likely, especially should a vessel persist in their use.

All stakeholders can play an important role in preventing the use of anything other than a rope monkey’s fist or alternative soft safety pouch. By promoting and raising the issue with all parties with a vested interest bad practice can be eliminated.

The full document can be read here.