Jun 23, 2020

Safety vs cost in merchant shipping crew transfer


The safe transfer of personnel is an essential aspect of the global shipping industry for a range of activities including cargo operations, access to single point moorings, maintenance work, as a contingency for adverse weather and for emergencies and evacuations.

There are 50,000 merchant ships worldwide. Shipping carries 90% of world trade goods and it’s predicted that global freight will more than quadruple by 20501. Shipping is crucial to the global economy. For the fleets to operate without interruption, it’s essential to have safe personnel transfer and access solutions that meet the sector's needs and aer also cost-effective.

Solving your crew transfer issues

Marine transfer is a flexible option and is becoming increasingly popular as a safe and cost-effective alternative to helicopters. In fact, many operators now plan their marine operations with the same high level of focus and professionalism previously only applied to aviation.

Teekay LNG STS transferWAVE-4 during STS transfer on Teekay's Yamal Spirit tanker.

Your safety is our priority

Initial research into accidents in the marine industry shows how most injuries and deaths related to passenger transfers can be categorised. These are:

•    Falling: the most common risk – crew can be tipped from a basket as it’s trapped beneath an obstruction. In one case a crew member who wasn’t wearing personal protective equipment fell into the sea and died.2
•    Vertical impact: back and leg injuries happen when people land heavily on deck.3
•    Lateral impact: injuries from a basket hitting a crash barrier or an accommodation rail on a tug. In one case, a person injured a leg as the basket was accidently swung against the boom of the crane of the destination vessel.3
•    Immersion: a death occurred during a ship-to-ship transfer when a crane wire snapped, dropping the person being transferred on a rope basket between two tankers.3

These incidents highlight the need for thorough training, preparation and the use of the right equipment to ensure safe operations.

Designing out risk – 10 years without a lost time incident

The design objectives for Reflex Marine's carriers are based around the four risk categories above. We’ve developed the most rigorous testing and verification program ever used by the industry to confirm these objectives are met. We adopted methodologies similar to those used to evaluate the safety performance of motor vehicles and assess the risk of injury. Vessel motions, crane speeds, sea states and the impact on the human body were among criteria assessed with the aim of designing a range of carriers with increased protection for personnel during transfer.

It’s no surprise then that while our carriers are used in more than a million operations a year around the world, there have been no lost time incidents for the last 10 years. This is an unprecedented record in the crew transfer making Reflex Marine's products the safest personnel transfer carriers on the market.

Gale force winds, fierce tidal surges and temperatures to -40˚C - whatever the conditions, Reflex Marine’s carriers provide the safety you need, enabling personnel transport risks to be mitigated in the shipping and marine industry.



1 ‘International Trade and Freight to 2050’ Jani Kuppila, International Transport Forum, 2015.

2 ‘Personnel Transfer Using Ship’s Cranes’, Chris Spencer, The Standard P & I Club, 2010

Professional Mariner (www.professionalmariner.com), Dom Yanchunas, 2009