Incorrect wire rope terminations can lead to catastrophic failure

Image: USCG
Image: USCG

The USCG Coast Guard has published a Marine Safety Alert to notify interested parties of a potentially dangerous situation involving incorrect wire rope terminations, which can lead to catastrophic failure. The Alert addresses the importance of verifying the condition, manufacturing, and physical specifications of wire rope that was purchased directly from Southwest Wire Rope (SWWR) or fabricated by SWWR and sold through other vendors.

An ongoing safety investigation following the catastrophic failure of a new wire rope provided by SWWR within a month of being newly installed has revealed several discrepancies in the company’s product fabricating procedures and quality management processes.

The wire rope, which was the subject of the investigation, was found to not match the specifications on the purchase order and receipt provided to the client by SWWR. The subject wire rope was both constructed of the wrong components and with an improperly applied fitting than what the client actually ordered.

Additionally, the Coast Guard observed discrepancies in the subject wire rope’s improperly applied swaged fittings and the use of the incorrect size of swaged fittings, which resulted in unintentional damage to the wire rope and eventual catastrophic failure of the termination.

The Coast Guard is currently unaware of how long this quality control measure has been an issue for the company and, for this reason, is issuing this safety alert.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners, manufacturers, operators, and service providers utilizing wire rope purchased from or fabricated by SWWR do the following:
– Verify the source and manufacturer of all wire rope, and if purchased or fabricated by SWWR, carefully observe the specifications of the rope to ensure it matches the product that was purchased (i.e., construction (number of wires per strand and number of strands) and wire rope lay);
– Visually examine wire rope terminations for abnormalities that may indicate improper installation. These ridges or abnormalities COULD be indicative of over-crimping, but any abnormalities need to be verified based on the type of crimp and manufacturing die used in the crimping process (i.e., some manufacturers’ dies have chambers for excess material that is then removed and can leave lines that appear similar to ridges);
– Compare fitting dimensions against the manufacturer’s specifications/tolerances for the completed fitting (i.e., does the length and diameter fall within fitting manufacturer specifications?);
– Verify that the termination type does not reduce the safe working load of the wire rope below the minimum safety factor for the type of service;
– If any abnormalities in the wire rope are detected, immediately remove the wire rope from service and make an appropriate replacement.

It should be noted that SWWR fabricated fittings are typically marked with gold paint, but paperwork related to SWWR products should also be verified.

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