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Marshall Islands Registry issues advisory note following an explosion on a coal laden carrier

Photo not the vessel involved in the Marshall Islands Registry flagged incident
Photo not the vessel involved in the Marshall Islands Registry flagged incident

The Registry has issued an advisory note to alert the wider shipping community to the fact it is currently conducting a serious marine casualty investigation into the fatality of two seafarers, which occurred recently onboard a Marshall Islands Registry flagged vessel. Marshall Islands Registry has published its preliminary findings into the incident, which is still ongoing, so that it might help to identify potential risks and preventing similar incidents from taking place.

The vessel involved was a bulk carrier laden with coal. Marshall Islands Registry regrets that two seafarers died and two others were severely burned following the explosion and fire, which took place in the Bosun’s Store Room.

The Bosun’s Store Room was accessible by way of:
– two watertight doors located on the upper deck port and starboard; and
– a deck hatch located forward of the anchor windlasses through the overhead of the Bosun’s Store Room

Probable Cause
Based on the Administrator’s preliminary analysis, the likely immediate cause of the explosion and fire was methane gas leaking from the No. 1 Cargo Hold and entering the Windlass Control Room and adjacent spaces through the No. 1 Cargo Hold Forward Access Hatch. The ignition source of the explosion was likely an electric charge when a light or another electrical component was energized or some other ignition source. It is noted that the lighting, wiring, and electrical fittings were not explosion proof.

Recommendations
The Administrator recommends that ship owners, ship management (Designated Persons Ashore), and Masters review the bulker’s cargo arrangements and as necessary employ appropriate risk assessment and risk mitigation measures through their Safety Management Systems such as, but not limited to:
– gas detection procedures;
– compliance of gas sampling equipment operability and maintenance;
– enclosed space entry procedures;
– ventilation;
– securing of cargo hold access hatches;
– designated smoking areas; and
– hot work permits.

The investigation continues.