Ports & Terminals

CG Urges Facilities To Assess Condition Of Mooring Bollards

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a Marine Safety Alert calling on marine facility managers to better assess and, if needed, replace mooring bollards in order to prevent vessel breakaways due to bollard failures.

The alert, dated May 30, said “there have been a number of shoreside marine bollard failures whereby moored vessels were cast adrift.” Those breakaways have resulted in both vessel and structure damages but, as yet, no injuries, according to the Coast Guard.

Interestingly, the alert noted that “neither the Coast Guard nor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulatory oversight over these items.”

The Coast Guard offered several reasons for bollards failing. In some cases, bollards made of marine pilings simply were rotten. Other causes included manufactured defects of bollard castings, damage from overloads and foundation degradation. According to the alert, the most common cause of failures was “abnormal dynamic loads transferred to the bollard from a vessel.”

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The Coast Guard connected abnormal loads to high winds blowing against vessels’ hulls. The force increases exponentially as wind speeds go up, according to the alert, and that issue is often exacerbated by too few or improperly-located bollards. The alert also said wave action from large vessels passing in a narrow waterway can also lead to failures of loaded bollards.

According to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Alert, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency have developed a mooring guidelines document, which is available on the Whole Building Design Guide website. The document can be found here.

“The Coast Guard strongly recommends that facility owners and operators take steps to develop a routine inspection program for bollards and other mooring equipment,” the Marine Safety Alert concluded. “Furthermore, vessel personnel should report discoveries of apparently deficient shoreside mooring equipment to facility managers.”