Harbour pilot’s drowning ruled to be work-related , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Harbour pilot’s drowning ruled to be work-related

After performing his duties on a tugboat, PSA Marine harbour pilot Mohamed Nabil Mohamed Ghazali prepared to disembark from the vessel to return to his launch boat.

But on Feb 11, 2023, a “miscalculation” cost him his life in an incident that took place near Kusu Island, which is one of the Southern Islands. On June 13, State Coroner Adam Nakhoda ruled it a work-related death.

Harbour pilots help manoeuvre ships through dangerous or congested waters, such as harbours.

Mr Nabil, who was 29, had successfully completed his job more than 2,000 times before.

Mr Nakhoda said Mr Nabil had chosen to jump off from the bow of the tugboat onto the launch boat, instead of stepping off the rubber tyre fender.

At the State Courts on June 13, Mr Nabil’s family, including his wife, heard that as he jumped, the two vessels collided and rebounded apart, which opened up a gap of between 1.5m and 2m.

“It was likely when he decided to jump, he estimated he did not need to jump very far. He did not expect the vessels to rebound and for the gap to increase,” said the coroner.

The coroner’s report found that the crew on board the PSA Marine launch boat had not given the signal to Mr Nabil to come on board as they were still in the process of adjusting the vessel’s position in relation to the tugboat.

The crew on the launch boat had acted in line with safety procedures, the coroner said.

After he fell overboard, Mr Nabil’s life jacket had automatically inflated upon contact with the water. He was spotted floating in a conscious state by the crew on the launch boat.

At this point, the momentum of a barge pulled by the tugboat he had jumped off from had resulted in the barge drifting towards Mr Nabil until he was eventually submerged.

A barge is a flat-bottomed vessel typically used to carry freight.

The state coroner said Mr Nabil’s life jacket could have become ensnared by barnacles under the barge, which left him stuck underneath. He subsequently drowned.

The court had heard that Mr Nabil was a well-trained and competent harbour pilot.

At the time, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Police Coast Guard and Singapore Civil Defence Force had deployed patrol and emergency response craft to conduct search and rescue operations.

MPA also activated divers to search for Mr Nabil.

His body was found and recovered on the same day at around 11.30am, more than eight hours after MPA’s Marine Safety Control Centre was alerted at around 2.50am.

There were 36 workplace deaths in 2023 compared with 46 in 2022.

Excluding 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions to many industries, Singapore’s workplace fatality rate fell below one per 100,000 workers in 2023 for the first time in the past decade.