Report published on cargo ship sinking in heavy weather that led to eight fatalities

Report published on cargo ship sinking in heavy weather - Image courtesy of JTSB
Report published on cargo ship sinking in heavy weather – Image courtesy of JTSB

Japan Transportation Safety Board (JTSB) has published an investigation report on the foundering of JIA DE the cargo ship sinking due to heavy weather in Kanagawa Prefecture, which led to fatalities of 8 crew members in October 2019.

The cargo ship JIA DE, with 12 crew onbaord, was anchoring at K1 anchorage point of Keihin Port on the way to proceed to Song Dang Port, Vietnam, when it encountered winds and waves due to the typhoon No.19 (Asian name “Hagibis”) approaching, and heeled to the starboard side.

The ship subsequently rolled over and took on seawater into the interior of the cargo holds, and thereby foundered around the anchorage at around 21:39 on October 12, 2019. The master and three crewmembers were rescued, but eight crewmembers died.

Probable causes
JIA DE probably foundered because sea water, which was being retained due to wave uprush on the upper deck (Retained Water), began flooding due to taking on sea water in her cargo holds and then steering became uncontrollable while the ship was being battered by winds and wave uprush from the port fore side to port side. The hull greatly heeled to the starboard side and the ship continued to be flooded due to taking on seawater in the cargo holds, subsequently rolling over due to decreasing stability and then foundering. This situation began while JIA DE was anchoring at night time under conditions of rolling and pitching, due to high winds and waves that had increased due to the typhoon approaching the area of K1 anchorage point of Keihin Port.

It is probable that the Retained Water on the deck began flooding because the lids for opening parts of the ventilation cylinders of the cargo holds were in an open condition and the water receiver railings at the connection parts between the panels of the hatch covers of the cargo holds had a number of broken holes. In addition, some parts of the panels were deformed and thereby the hatch covers were not securely weather-tight. It is also probable that wave uprush on the deck further increased because the dry draft had been decreasing due to ingress water into the interior of the cargo holds and the Retained Water.

The steering was probably uncontrollable because ingress water that infiltrated into the MDO tank interior through air vents on the upper deck was supplied to the diesel generator engines with MDO through the fuel oil supply line of the diesel generator engines. Then the diesel generator engines experienced combustion failure or misfiring, and subsequently stopped, thereby a blackout occurred.

After the uncontrollable steering of JIA DE and further increased winds and wave uprush from the port fore side to port side, the ship heeled to the starboard side due to receiving winds and waves and came to roll on that angle. Then heeling to the starboard side gradually increased due to receiving strong wind and heavy waves from the typhoon.

In view of the investigation findings, JTSB recommends the Panama Maritime Authority, as the flag state of JIA DE, to instruct the Masters and crews in stormy weather and rough seas to:
– Reliably carry out closing of opening parts on exposed decks such as lids of opening parts of ventilation cylinders of cargo holds, etc. in case that stormy weather and rough seas are expected.
– Secure significant dry draft in any sea condition, and therefore should crewmembers to carry out adjustment of the ship’s condition.
– Carry out the drain discharging operation in which each drain valve of fuel oil tanks is operated not only periodically as routine work, but also on a timely basis in a condition of rolling and pitching in stormy weather and rough seas. This will aim not to supply fuel oil with infiltrated water into the fuel oil supply lines of generator engines, etc. in case that air vent pipes of fuel oil tanks were not equipped automatic opening and closing-type air vent head, etc. to automatically prevent the infiltration of water.
– Conduct refresher training for crewmembers concerning survival techniques at sea for getting ready for abandon ship, such as taking out belongings, escape behavior from the interior of the vessel, putting on a life jacket and immersion suit, dressing warmly, etc.
– Implement maintenance necessary including the water receiver railings of the hatch cover to secure weather-tightness of the hatch cover of the cargo holds themselves with regard to the vessels managed and owned by the Companies.

Download the report on cargo ship sinking: JTSB Marine accident investigation report - MA2021-2

Read another accident report: Engine failure caused fire on another towing vessel says NTSB report

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