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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.
Japan-headquartered Nippon Paint Marine has introduced what is thought the world’s first biocide-free, low friction self-polishing copolymer (SPC) antifouling technology.
Aquaterras, a product name derived from the Japanese word for shining and the Latin for water – Shining Water – is an entirely new type of marine coating developed using neither biocide materials nor silicone.
Nippon Paint Marine Director John Drew said: “Typically ships’ antifouling paints have contained some form of biocide – copper, tributyltin, co-biocides. But the use of biocides today is strictly controlled by both national and international regulations such as the BPR in the EU. And while there are no immediate plans to further regulate the use of approved biocides, we cannot rule out the possibility that copper in antifouling will be regulated in the near future.
The Bahamas Maritime Authority issued a safety alert regarding the potential serious risk for safety on board a ship where nitrogen cylinders are used as a stored kinetic energy system for launching lifeboats. This alert was issued after the authority obtained information from an ongoing maritime incident investigation conducted by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, New Zealand.
The vessel had hydraulically powered davits with six power packs, three on each side of the vessel. A stored energy system consisted of a piston accumulator and a bank of four high pressure (180-210 Bar) nitrogen cylinders were fitted to each lifeboat launching davit.
In February 2017, one of the nitrogen cylinders of a stored energy system onboard exploded while being topped up to maintain the correct pressure. A crew member died as a result of the explosion. The findings of the investigation indicate that significant corrosion affected the structural integrity of the cylinder.