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Why do ships strike docks when coming into port?

For dockworkers, one of the most dangerous scenarios is when a ship comes into port in a slightly out-of-control fashion and strikes the dock itself. Depending on the size of the vessel, the damage could be catastrophic. Workers on the dock and the ship could suffer injuries.

This is essentially a never-event in the maritime industry. It should not happen. So, why does it?

Sometimes, it may just be inexperience. If the captain has never docked a boat of that size or come to that particular dock, he or she could make a mistake. One of the biggest mistakes is simply coming in too fast and failing to leave enough room for the boat to slow down. It may be an irreversible error.

In other cases, accidents happen due to mechanical defects. For example, five people got hurt when an engine failure on a cruise ship sent the massive vessel slamming into a boat for tourists and then into a nearby dock. You can’t always predict a breakdown of this magnitude.

Finally, you have to consider the weather conditions. A ship coming toward the dock on a choppy sea as a storm blows in may be far more likely to strike the dock than one on a calm, clear day. In rain or fog, a lack of visibility could also cause an accident when the dock suddenly appears in front of the vessel.

After an accident takes place, workers could have serious injuries for which they need to seek medical treatment immediately. It’s important for them to know all of the legal options they have for this expensive but critical medical care.