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Precis File
SHIP NAME: P Harmony KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 6
source UNK
type A
volume
material
dead 9
link

January 15, 2001 Oil Tanker Sinks off South Korea An empty oil tanker exploded and sank off the South Korean (news - web sites) coast Monday, killing three crew members, maritime police said. Six others were missing and seven had been rescued after the 5,000-ton P-Harmony went down 30 miles south of Pusan, South Korea's largest port, officials said. The cause of the explosion was under investigation. Phil Ocean, a Seoul-based company that manages the ship, said the tanker was empty when it sank, but may have leaked some oil. Cleanup operations were underway. The ship had unloaded fuel oil at Ulsan, 15 miles northeast of Pusan, the company said.


source UNK
type A
volume
material
dead 9
link

SEOUL, Jan 15 (Reuters) — A tanker exploded and sank off South Korea’s southeastern port of Pusan today, killing three crew and injuring seven, an official at the ship’s charterer said. SK Shipping spokesman Hwang Shin said the coastguard and navy were searching for the remaining six crew who had been missing since the tanker sank near Koje Island. The 9,800 DWT tanker P Harmony exploded in waters off Pusan around 9.55 a.m. The ship was en route to the southwestern port of Yosu where it was scheduled to load a cargo of about 9,000-tonnes of boiler kerosene at Yosu, Hwang said.


source ITOPF
type A
volume
material
dead
link

M tanker P. Harmony sank in the Strait of Korea, off the coast of Kojedo, following a fire and explosion on jan 15. The vessels was in ballast at the time of the incident, enroute to Yous from Ulsan, where she had discharged 6500 tonnes of gasoline. Some 280 cubic meters of fuel oil, Bunkser C, was reported as being on board when the explosion occurred, and an unknown quantity was subseqently spilt. Owing to the winds and currents prevalent in the area at the time of the incident, the oil moved away from the Korean coast, and travelled across the Strait of Korea toward the Japanese island of Tsushima where it stranded on the north and northwestern shore.


source FSI
type A
volume
material
dead
link http://www.imo.org/includes/blastData.asp/doc_id=3530/4.pdf

The Koreans did a full investigation report but it is apparently not public. A one page IMO summary of the report is included in the above link. It has the following description of the casualty.

After discharging gasoline in one port, the tanker was making an 11 hour transit to the next port where the next cargo was to be loaded. Following the instructions of the charter, the crew started tank cleaning operations by fitting a water driven fan to ventilate the tank with ducting extending to the lower portion of the tank. Due to the freezing weather the water in the pipes was freezing making the operation of the fans difficult and necessitated starting the operation from the after tanks.

After completing the ventilation of the tank just forward of the slop tanks, and considering it to be gas free two crew members entered the tank to remove residual oil. There was an explosion which tore away bulkheads to adjoining tanks. One such tank contained A-1 Jet Fuel and kerosene slops which ignited. The hull was breached in way of the tanks and the engine room and the ship flooded rapidly, developed a starboard list and sank. The crew escaped by jumping into the sea and seven were recovered bypassing ships. Of a crew of 16, 7 survived,

The cause of the ignition was not identified; however, it could have been a discharge of static electricity from winter clothing or fromthe ventilation ducting or an ordinary metal paint can that was used to carry tools into the tanks coming into contact with metal and causing a spark.

The crew was under pressure to complete the tank cleaning operation due to the short duration of the transit to the next port in that given the equipement avialable and the weather conditions, there was insufficient time to ventilate and clean all the the tanks as requested.

Given the type of cargo to be loaded in the next port, the report disputes the need to clean tanks in this case.


source Korean incidents
type D
volume 328T
material fuel oil
dead
link

Explosion


source CTX
type D
volume N
material
dead
link

Obviously, the tank was not gas free, The Koreans were unable to identify the source of ignition, could have been tools, even clothing.

The crew followed unsafe ventilation procedures. But the real problem here is a charter party whose terms were impossible to comply with safely given the equipment the ship was fitted with.

An unusual factor here is that the Korean (port state, not flag state) report does not take the usual blame-the-crew attitude, even though the crew had failed to properly purge the tank. The report calls for an IGS system, which may have prevented the fire from spreading. 30 years after Mactra et al, the P Harmony did not have an inert gas system. The report calls for a permanently fitted purging system, and cleaning tanks only when necessary. The real fault here is clearly with the owners, the charterer, and the regulatory system. So I guess it makes sense that IMO lists these recommendations under Human Factors.