The Bahamas registered chemical tanker “Panama Serena”
which was built in turkey, entered service in June 2003,
exploded and caught fire at Porto Torres, Sardinia in Italia on 01 January 2004.
The catastrophic damage caused resulted in the vessel
being declared a constructive total loss (CTL),
two crew members were tragically killed and one was injured.
The “Panama Serena” had arrived at Porto Torres on 31 December 2003
with a cargo of Benzene and cut C6 (C6),
the Benzene discharge had been complete
and the vessel was close to completion of discharge of the C6.
All cargo tanks were loaded upon arrival at Porto Torres,
except No.4C which was washed, clean and dry.
At approximately 11:55 on 01 January 2004, as the cargo deck watch was changing,
the vessel was shaken by the first in a series of violent explosions,
which resulted in an intense fire amidships,
within the cargo tank area of the vessel.
The duty 3rd Mate and relieving 2nd Mate were handing
over the cargo watch in the cargo control room (CCR),
which overlooked the main deck at the time of the first explosion.
The seaman on duty and the seaman taking over the deck watch were outside on the main deck
and were both tragically killed in the series of explosions.
The Chief Mate, who was resting in his cabin at the time, was injured.
The Master and the remainder of the crew who were all within the aft accommodation area
managed to escape from the vessel by jumping over the stern into the water,
then climbing into the stern launch freefall lifeboat,
which had automatically launched
due to the extreme force of the explosions which wracked the vessel.
The fire was eventually brought under control by the shore based emergency fire services;
however they were unable to save the two seamen on the main deck
or prevent extensive damage to the vessel and the terminal jetty
due to the intense nature of the fire which followed the series of explosion.
Due to the catastrophic damage caused to the vessel
(which can be seen in the photographs attached to this report)
it has been extremely difficult to identify the exact cause of the initial explosion;
however a number of possible causes were identified and are covered within this report.