Report finds fire onboard cargo vessel was due to lack of compliance with SMS

The NTSB has published its report on the fire that took place on board the cargo ship Chipolbrok Moon on 23 May 2018. The fire occurred while the ship was moored at the Industrial Terminal West in Greens Bayou in the Port of Houston, Texas.

The incident
On May 21, the Chipolbrok Moon arrived at Industrial Terminal West in Houston. After the ocean voyage and before offloading the cargo, the steel sea fastener tabs used to secure the turbine components had to be removed by cutting, using an oxygen/acetylene torch.

The next afternoon, a marine chemist tested the atmosphere in cargo holds no. 2 port, no. 3 port and starboard, and no. 4 starboard for oxygen content and presence of flammable vapors to determine if it was safe to carry out hotwork.

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First judgement of Hague and Hague Visby rules tested in the English courts

Britannia P&I Club referred to the English supreme court that presented its first authoritative judgement in English law, addressing the question of whether it is the carrier or cargo interests who bears the burden of proof under the Hague and Hague-visby rules.

The case had to do with a low value claim for condensation damage to coffee beans.

In the first trial the judge ruled in favour of the cargo deciding that where goods shipped in apparent good order and condition show loss or damage on discharge, there is an evidential inference that the loss or damage is caused by the fault of the carrier.

The carrier then has the burden of showing that it has not breached any of its obligations.

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Unsafe transfer of cargoes of wood pellets increases the possibility of fire

Photo by Steve Pomeroy, Empire Shipping Agency, Vancouver, B.C.
Photo by Steve Pomeroy, Empire Shipping Agency, Vancouver, B.C.

Peter Hazell, Assistant Vice President and Head of FDD Skuld, has looked at former coal fired power stations that have started to burn biomass as feedstock in order to enhance sustainability of fuel sources. This results in increased shipments of wood pellets intended to be burned.

Most of these shipments are completed without incident but there are significant hazards associated with the carriage of wood pellets that surveyors should be aware of.

Generally, to have safely transfer wood pellets the Club advises always to follow standard enclosed space entry procedures.

The wood pellets can include a binder additive but not all do so. Each of these types can self-heat when in bulk form.

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Ineffective inspections and surveys contributed to fatal explosion on a barge off Texas says report

An explosion and fire aboard the articulated tug and barge ‘Buster Bouchard’ was the result of a lack of effective maintenance and safety management of the barge by the owner company, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has revealed in its report into the incident.

On 20 October 2017, at 0430 local time, the crews of the articulated tug and barge (ATB) Buster Bouchard/B. No. 255 were preparing to get under way from anchorage to proceed into the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, when an explosion and subsequent fire occurred on the bow of the barge.

Two barge crew members who were on the bow were killed in the explosion. The fire was extinguished about 1100 on the same day.

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