The U.S. Coast Guard has issued its report from its investigation into a fatal lifeboat accident on Shell’s Auger tension leg platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in 2019.
The incident took place during a routine lifeboat launch and retrieval drill on June 30, 2019. Two people inside the lifeboat were killed when it fell 80 feet, landing upside down in the water. Another person, who was exiting the lifeboat when it released, was seriously injured.
According to the report, the aft hook on the Auger platform’s Lifeboat No. 6 inadvertently opened as the lifeboat was being winched into the davit following the drill. “The lifeboat, still hanging from the forward hook, swung in a pendulum motion away from the facility. A few seconds later, the forward hook separated from the lifeboat and opened, and the lifeboat fell approximately 80 feet, landing inverted in the water,” investigators said in the executive summary.
The investigation determined that the “initiating event” for the casualty occurred when the locking shaft on the aft hook moved from the “almost open” to the open position, which in turn caused the aft hook to open under load and release from the lift ring.
“Based on the evidence collected and evaluated, it is probable that on the morning of June 30, 2019, the crew cycled (open to closed position) the hooks two times while in the water. The cable conduit, already compromised, was exposed to additional stresses, including compression and stretching. It is probable that during the second cycling event, the conduit, already weakened and damaged, separated during the closing action. As a result, when the system was reset, the locking shaft on the aft hook did not return to the fully closed position, but rather, came to rest in an “almost open” position. In this position, the hook could support the weight of the lifeboat and its occupants,” the report stated.
Following the incident, the Coast Guard issued a Safety Alert after the preliminary investigation identified a damaged control cable within the lifeboat’s releasing mechanism.
The U.S. Coast Guard has made ten Safety Recommendations and eight Administrative Recommendations associated with the investigation.
All can be found in the Coast Guard’s report:FPS Auger Lifeboat Fall with Loss of Life