Lessons learned: Master enacts stop work authority due to unsafe conditions

The incident 

A vessel received instructions to pick up an aviation fuel tank at an auxiliary platform.

As explained, the Master tried to tie up to the platform but was not successful because the landing was too small, having been designed for a crew boat as opposed to an AHTS vessel.

What is more, it was noted that the vessel did not have the appropriate lifting gear to handle such a heavy lift.

The Master determined that the operation was unsafe and called it off, having informed all relevant stakeholders accordingly.

Probable causes

Often vessel Masters are required to juggle client expectations.

According to IMCA:

Here the Master has done the “due diligence” through active engagement and then determining whether or not the operation warrants the use of stop work authority. Doing this sends a clear example to the crew that they can do the same if necessary.

The Master did his utmost to meet client expectations. However, he exercised stop work authority after having determined the unfeasibility of the operation based on his situational awareness. The Master actively updated all concerned parties throughout the process in order to ensure that all relevant stakeholders were kept informed.


  • It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that client expectations are met, so far as is reasonably practicable. However, the safe operation of the vessel and the safety of the crew should always take precedent.
  • All crew, from Master downward, should understand that they can enact stop work authority in the event that operations pose risks which cannot be controlled in a manner as low as reasonably practicable.

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