Dramatic footage of water pouring into a drydock while men were at work inside raised concerns yesterday about health and safety in Gibraltar’s shipyard, despite assurances from Gibdock and the Gibraltar Government that the incident was down to human error and had been properly handled.
The footage showed an incident that occurred in April 2018 but only came to light publicly this week after the video was posted on social media.
No one was hurt in the incident, but Unite the Union expressed concern at the dramatic footage of seawater gushing into the dry dock, flooding machinery as men rushed to safety.
“It is clear from the footage that the incident in question was indeed of a serious nature,” the union said in a statement.
Unite said that if the footage had not emerged on social media, the issue would have been covered up by an employer which it accused of having “a poor track record on health and safety”.
But Richard Beards, managing director at Gibdock, yesterday told the Chronicle the video dated back to April 2018.
“It was fully investigated at the time and the outcome of which was further training and an update of the relevant procedure,” he said.
“We are confident that this will not happen again.”
Mr Beards confirmed that no injuries were sustained in the incident.
A Gibraltar Government spokesman said: “The Health & Safety Inspectorate has only today come to learn of an incident at Gibdock that took place back in April 2018.”
“Upon its investigation today the Inspectorate has found that the occurrence was down to human error whereby an employee in charge of operation mistook a valve to be that of the adjacent dock and proceed to release causing water to fill the wrong dock.”
“The operator was at a vantage point to witness his error and immediately closed the corresponding valve.”
“No injuries were sustained by any persons and no negligence found on part of the company leading to the occurrence.”
“The matter was dealt with internally at the time by the company in relation to the employee responsible.”
Gibraltar’s Gibdock shipyard has completed a conversion project to enable a ferry to operate using liquefied natural gas as fuel.
It took three months to carry out the works on the Baleària ferry Napoles.
A spokesman for Gibdock said this project was “possibly the most complex and demanding ever undertaken by the yard”.
The vessel arrived in the yard last November with the yard already having pre-fabricated two LNG bunker fuel reception stations for later installation.
The majority of the work on the 186m-long vessel, which has a capacity for 1.600 passengers and 1,430 lane metres of cargo, took place alongside the yard’s main repair wharf.
Some elements of the LNG conversion were undertaken in Gibdock’s Panamax size Dock No.1.
This is the first of five ships Baleària plans to convert.
Gibdock has already secured the contract to work on a second vessel Sicilia.