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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Sunny Jewel KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 2
source IMO FP 53/5/2
type A
volume Y
material
dead 3
link

On 14 December 2004, the vessel discharged a cargo of Reformate. This cargo, which is a dangerous and flammable liquid, is used as a base material in the production of gasoline.

Whilst on a ballast voyage, the vessel sustained an explosion in her cargo length area on 15 December 2004. The flame, which started in one of her cargo tanks during tank cleaning operations, spread to adjoining tanks, igniting flammable gases inside. This resulted in almost all the deck plating being blown off and the side shell plating holed resulting in tank flooding. Both the bosun and two other sailors, who were on deck at the time of the explosion, went missing. Eventually, the fire was brought under control but the vessel sustained a serious list and subsequently foundered. Pollution was also recorded as a result of fuel oil spillage from her tanks.

CAUSES

1. Although not definite, it is presumed that the steam nozzle used in the tank cleaning may have created a static electrical discharge in an explosive atmosphere;

2. Gas-freeing period lasted only 1.5 hours resulting in a lack of air changes inside the cargo tanks;

3. Subsequent gas testing was only planned to be conducted through the oil-tight hatch in the aft part of each tank rather than in other locations such as in the middle or forward sections of the tank;

4. Whilst the response time for the gas detector (with a pipe length of 20 m) was approximately 34 seconds, the chief officer assumed that the response time was instead 15 seconds (which corresponds to a 1 m sampling pipe);

5. The vessel was not fitted with an inert gas system.

ISSUES RAISED

One needs to highlight the importance of adequate use of gas measuring equipment instruments, which are capable to measure gas in various tank atmosphere conditions. Another important factor relates to the dangers of steam cleaning due to static electrical discharges. Established guidelines in the industry caution about the dangers of: - mist cloud generation inside the cargo tank, which may be electrostatically charged; - levels of charging, which may be much higher when steam is introduced (in comparison with water washing); - less time periods to reach maximum charge levels in comparison with water washing; and - capability of steam disturbance to release gases resulting in flammable pockets build-up. The report reflects multiple failures in the decision-making process of both the master and the chief officer.


source CTX
type C
volume
material
dead 3
link

The above summary presumably is from the Panamanian report which we are not allowed to see. It is pretty good as far as it goes. The crew pretty clearly did not do a good job of purging. But if the ship had been inerted, there's a decent chance the explosion would have been confined to a single tank.