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The global passenger ferry industry has averaged more than 1,000 fatalities per year since the 1960s, with the great majority occurring on domestic voyages in Asia and Africa.
From 1966 to 2015 there were 750 recorded fatal accidents involving passenger vessels, resulting in 59,600 fatalities. Ninety-three per cent of ferry accidents occurred during domestic voyages, with 90% of fatalities occurring in just 20 countries and 76% in 10.
According to TT Club, container fires are a far more regular occurrence than most people would realise. Statistics show there is a major container cargo fire at sea roughly every 60 days. So, tackling fires and subsequent investigations are complex and vitally important activities.
With increasing container ships size increases the risk of a fire incident increases too. Despite some regulatory and technical advances, the fact is that the ability to respond to a cargo-related fire at sea has not progressed as needed in recent times.
To tackle a fire in a hold, TT Club notes a CO2 system will be installed if the ship is carrying dangerous goods. The gas released from a CO2 system can displace the oxygen in the hold and smother the fire. However, for CO2 to be effective, the hold must be closed to retain the gas and prevent oxygen ingress.
If an incident has taken place in a container stowed on deck, water will be the only option available . Nevertheless, it is unlikely to extinguish a fire inside a container in the short term.
The West of England P&I Club has warned operators and others involved of the dangers of carrying nickel ore. Carrying nickel ore can be dangerous, because of the risk of liquefaction of the cargo on passage when the moisture content is higher than the cargo’s Flow Moisture Point (FMP).
After a number of ships being lost, with liquefaction of their nickel ore cargoes suspected of being the cause, the West of England Club published a Notice some years ago addressing the Dangers of Carrying Nickel ore. This Notice is still in forced and was re-issued as No.13 2017/2018 – Dangers of Carrying Nickel Ore from Indonesia and the Philippines – Mandatory Notification Requirements (re-issued).
The Club reminds operators of the risk of liquefaction with this cargo, as showcased by the loss of the ‘Emerald Star’, which claimed the lives of 11 seafarers in October 2017.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has experienced a steady increase in incident reports from 1,21 in 2013 to 3,017 reports in 2017. This is a 75% increase over a five-year period. For the period from 1 January to 30 June 2018, AMSA received 1,611 incident reports.
Key points to note
– During 2013-2017, the number of ship arrivals to Australian ports has increased by 21%.
From the 1611 incident reports in January-June 2018, the vast majority of occurrences (78%) concerned some form of technical issue.
– Among the technical issues, the most predominant occurrences relate to power, propulsion, and steering. This includes, for example, issues with a vessel’s main and auxiliary engines, and the steering gear and rudder.
The US Coast Guard, in partnership with the American Waterways Operators (AWO), has published the National Quality Steering Committee’s annual safety report containing towing industry data for calendar years 1994 to 2017. The report reveals that in 2017, there were six operational towing vessel crew fatalities.
The National Quality Steering Committee looks at three safety measures to track overall trends in towing vessel safety and environmental protection: Crew fatalities per 100,000 towing industry workers, gallons of oil spilled from tank barges per million gallons transported, and the number of towing vessel casualties (overall and by incident severity).
The report also includes summary statistics on crewmember injuries, which the National Quality Steering Committee began tracking in 2006, for calendar years 2006 to 2017.