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The UK P&I Club has published helpful guidance to ensure safe bunkering operations. The Club said that bunkering operations are routine and critical, high risk operations which require to be carefully planned and performed.
Causes of bunker spills
Although the most of the bunker transfers are carried out without incident, very occasionally, things can and do go wrong. The UK Club notes that only a minority of cases do bunker spills occur because of failure of the hoses or pipelines, while the majority of spills result from a tank overflowing.
But these are not the only causes. Common causes of bunker spills can be summarised as follows:
In the UK P&I Club‘s latest ‘Lessons Learned’ feature, Capt David Nichol references a case about a serious eye injury caused to an engineer who was engaged in carrying out routine maintenance of a fresh water steriliser. The investigation and outcome identified that the injured man had not been part of a proper risk assessment and consequently had not been wearing any face protection.
The incident occurred while two of the vessel’s engineers were performing maintenance on the U.V. steriliser of the fresh water generator in port. The work involved replacing a U.V. lamp and its associated tubular quartz glass sleeve within the cylindrical steriliser casing.
Article written by Joe Maguire, Technical Manager at Skuld P&I Club. The Club would like to draw attention to the continued dangers of fires which originate in the machinery space. Specifically, where the cause of the fire is as a result of a flammable liquid spraying onto a hot surface.
Typical root causes for such incidents have been identified as:
– Missing pipe brackets/supports on oil systems leading to increased vibrations and subsequent cracks or even breakage of the oil piping system.
– Missing cup over the fuel injector valve.
– Original insulation or screening of hot surfaces was not maintained correctly.
– Original insulation or screening of hot surfaces was not sufficient for preventing oil spray onto hot surfaces.
– Insulation soaked with oil caught fire when sufficiently heated up.
– Oil leakages from engine components like exhaust valve indicators spraying onto the exhaust manifold.
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.