Burning Flaminia Abandoned – Were Dangerous Containers Declared?

 accident reporting, containership, explosion, fire  Comments Off on Burning Flaminia Abandoned – Were Dangerous Containers Declared?
Jul 152012

MSC Flaminia – Was the cargo manifest accurate? Photo: Lampje, MSC Ships Blog

Crew have abandoned the 75,590 tonne German-flagged containership MSC Flaminia following an explosion in a cargo hold.

The incident may again raise concerns regarding the accuracy of container manifests. A similar fire occurred in 2006 aboard the Hyundai Fortune, possibly due to calcium hypochlorite, with secondary explosions from fireworks carried aboard.

Attention may also be paid to the possibility of contaminated gases in reefer units, which caused problems in 2011.

At 10:07 on Sunday Falmouth Coastguard received the relayed mayday broadcast from the German registered MSC Flaminia reporting that the crew on board had abandoned the vessel.

Falmouth Coastguard broadcast an alert to all vessels in the area and the nearest vessel which could provide assistance was the oil tanker DS Crown which immediately changed course to intercept the MSC Flaminia. Six other merchant vessels also proceeded to the location to help with the search and rescue operation but were more than six hours from the location. Rescue helicopters do not have the endurance required to attend an incident of this nature because the vessel is approximately 1,000 miles from land mid way between the UK and Canada.

John Green, Apostleship of the Sea Director of Development says “This tragedy is a reminder of the dangers seafarers face each day to bring us various goods we rely on. Like so many seafarers, the crew on the Flaminia lived a very hard life. But they go to sea because it’s the only way they can provide for their families.”

DS Crown arrived on scene to confirm that the MSC Flaminia was still burning and recovered 24 people from a lifeboat and a liferaft. Four crew had suffered injuries. The injured crew have been transferred to the vessel MSC Stella which will take them to the Azores. One crew member is missing.

The MSC Flaminia is a large container vessel of 75,590 gross tonnage and had 25 people on board. Crew of the MSC Flaminia include German, Polish and Filipino nationals. Weather conditions on scene were winds force 3-4 with a one metre swell.

See Also

International P&I Issues Calcium Hypochlorite Warning

ITF Pleased On Shipper Reaction to Exploding Reefers

Exploding Reefers: The Vietnam Connection

Contaminated/Counterfeit Gas Danger to Reefers



Fake Port Bomb Detector CEO In Fraud Arrest

 explosion, fraud, terorism, terrorism  Comments Off on Fake Port Bomb Detector CEO In Fraud Arrest
Jul 122012

Scientists and senators discuss the GT200 in Mexico

After a two and a half year investigation by the City of London Police’s Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit, OACU, Gary Bolton, CEO of Global Technical, which  supplied the GT200 explosives and drugs detector to ports and petrochemicals facilities in Mexico and security agencies elsewhere, has been charged under sections 2 and 7 of the Fraud Act 2006 for dishonestly representing the device as capable of detecting explosives.

The GT200 and similar device conclusively demonstrated not to work have been sold to Pemex and the Mexican Navy as well as to security forces in Pakistan, where it is used in airports, India, China, Thailand and allegedly Belgium.

MAC has produced a briefing paper for Ship Security Officers to help identify these non-working devices.

Bolton’s arrest is one of several following investigations by the City of London Police and Avon and Somerset Constabulary with advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Others arrested include James McCormick of ATSC Ltd with three counts contrary to section 6 and three counts contrary to section 7 of the Fraud Act 2006, relating to three devices, known as ‘ADE 101’, ‘ADE 650’ and ‘ADE 651’, Samuel Tree, Joan Tree, and Simon Sherrard charged with one count contrary to Section 7 of the Fraud Act 2006, involving an ‘Alpha 6’ substance detection device. Anthony Williamson faces the same charge in relation to an ‘XK9’ device.

Most of the devices have been sold to countries where corruption is endemic and despite overwhelming evidence of their ineffectiveness as well as warning from the British government which had helped promote the devices, sales have continued.

Although the arrests in the UK may stop the fraudulent devices being exported from there, similar devices such as the HEDD1 are being sold from Germany as well as pirated copies from China and Korea.

For further background:

Ouji Board Wands Still Used By Pemex/Mexican Navy Against Terrorists

Beware These Bunkum Bomb Detectors

Bogus Bomb Detector Update: BBC Reveals Royal Engineer Role

Beware Fake Bomb Detectors

See Also:

‘Bomb detector’ maker Jim McCormick faces fraud charges

Five more charged over ‘bogus’ bomb detectors

Universal Gloria Burn Injuries: 3O Didsn’t know His O2

 Accident, Accident report, ATSB, Australia, explosion, maritime safety news  Comments Off on Universal Gloria Burn Injuries: 3O Didsn’t know His O2
Apr 182012

Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau found that an injured third officer aboard the K-Line woodchip carrier Universal Gloria was so poorly trained that he was unaware of the difference between oxygen and air. The officer, on his first assignment as third, was badly burned when the air compressor he was using to fill a cylinder for an oxygen breathing apparatus, OBA, set, exploded.

During routine checks the third officer found that the pressure in one of the OBA cylinders in the fire locker was about 7 MPa, well below the normal 20 MPa, so he decided to remove the cylinder and take it to the steering compartment so he could use the compressor to re-fill it.

The third mate tried to screw the compressor discharge hose connector into the OBA cylinder, but it did not fit. He found an adaptor in the box next to the compressor that fitted both the OBA cylinder and the compressor discharge hose connector. He fitted the adaptor to the hose connector and then fitted it to the OBA cylinder.

The third mate checked all the connections and opened the OBA cylinder valve. Then, as he reached over the compressor to switch it on, the compressor discharge tube exploded. During this process, it is likely that the temperature of the oxygen-rich environment within the discharge hose and tube had dramatically increased due to adiabatic compression.

The heat of the oxygen rose beyond the auto-ignition temperature of the oil in the system, resulting in the explosion. The third officer was engulfed in a ball of flame. He jumped to his feet, regained his composure, and ran out of the steering compartment.

The AB reported the fire, which continued to burn on and around the compressor, to the bridge watchkeeper. He then went to the engine room to get a portable fire extinguisher. He quickly returned with an extinguisher and discharged its contents onto the fire, extinguishing it.

There are internationally recognised colour schemes used in industry so that high pressure cylinders containing different gases can be easily identified.

There are also a number of different types of engineering controls that prevent a high pressure cylinder from being connected to an incompatible system. An oxygen/acetylene welding set is an example where such engineering controls are used. The threads on the oxygen cylinder are right handed, whereas the threads on the acetylene cylinder are left handed. Therefore, the cylinders cannot be incorrectly connected to the welding set.

All ‘K’ Line ships were supplied with Kawasaki OBA sets and either Sabre or Kawasaki BA sets. The cylinders used in all these sets were colour coded. The BA cylinders were pale green in colour, signifying that they contained air and the OBA cylinders were black, indicating that they contained oxygen. The OBA cylinders were also labelled ‘oxygen’ (in Japanese only) and stamped with the molecular formula for oxygen ‘O2’.
The Sabre cylinders had a European standard threaded connection that was different to that of the Kawasaki air and oxygen cylinders. Therefore, the Kawasaki air and oxygen cylinders could not be connected to a Sabre BA set or an air compressor fitted with a European standard connection.
The Kawasaki cylinders were manufactured to conform to the Japanese standard for high pressure gas cylinder valves. However, the threaded connections on both types of Kawasaki cylinders were the same and there were no other engineering controls in place to prevent a Kawasaki oxygen cylinder from being connected to a Kawasaki BA set or an air compressor fitted with a Kawasaki type threaded connection.

Therefore, it was possible for a Kawasaki OBA cylinder to be inadvertently connected to an air compressor fitted with a Kawasaki type threaded connector.

The third mate did not understand that the pale green colour of the BA cylinders signified that they were filled with air, or that the compressor would re-fill them with air. Furthermore, he did not understand that air is a mixture of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and other trace gases. In fact, he thought that oxygen and air were the same thing.

The ATSB investigation found that the explosion occurred as a result of a fire that started within the compressor when oil ignited in the hot oxygen-rich environment.

The investigation identified three safety issues. The crew were not appropriately trained or drilled in the operation and maintenance of the ship’s OBA sets; the ship’s safety management system did not provide the crew with appropriate guidance in relation to the operation and maintenance of the OBA sets; and there were no engineering controls in place to prevent the inadvertent connection of an OBA cylinder to the air compressor.

Fortunately, Universal Gloria had not suffered a serious fire: The ship’s fire fighting manual referred exclusively to fire fighting in the vehicle decks of a car carrier and, hence, was of little assistance to the crew on board a woodchip carrier.
ATSB Report

One Dead In Stolt Valor Explosion/Fire

 Accident, explosion, fire  Comments Off on One Dead In Stolt Valor Explosion/Fire
Mar 152012

Stolt Valor is on fire in the Persian Gulf. Photro: US Navy

One seafarer is missing and 25 are understood to be safe following an explosion and fire aboard the chemical tanker Stolt Valor while transitting the Persian Gulf.  Two coalition warships, the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones and Coast Guard Cutter Baranof rescued 24 crewmembers.

The John Paul Jones, assigned to Combined Maritime Forces Task Force 152, responded to a 2am distress call from Stolt Valor, operating in international waters 48 nautical miles southeast of Farsi Island, Iran.

When the John Paul Jones’s crew spotted one of two life rafts signaling with a small light and launched the ship’s rigid-hull inflatable boat to investigate, they found 16 people in the first raft and eight more in the other.

Stolt Valor’s master confirmed one crew member died during an explosion. The 24 rescued mariners were in good health and did not require medical help. Continue reading »

QM2 Explosion/Powerloss: “critical equipment must ‘fail safe’,

 Accident, Accident report, engine room, explosion, fire  Comments Off on QM2 Explosion/Powerloss: “critical equipment must ‘fail safe’,
Jan 182012

In its investigation of an explosion and loss of propulsion aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2 Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch warns that protection systems for critical equipment must ‘fail safe’, and should be thoroughly tested at regular intervals to prove that all sub-components are functioning correctly. In particular, harmonic filters with current imbalance protection systems should be thoroughly checked by a competent person at the earliest opportunity.

Investigation of the catastrophic failure of a capacitor and explosion in the aft harmonic filter room  showed that the protection system for the harmonic filter did not work. As a result the vessel blacked out and was without steering or propulsion for 30 minutes. There were 3823 people on board.

Says MAIB: “there is a need to improve the awareness of the potential risks of high voltage harmonic distortion and arc flash… Awareness of the damaging effects of harmonic distortion needs to improve throughout the marine industry as the risks to equipment caused by harmonic distortion are likely to increase significantly as variable speed AC electric motors become more widely used in ships”.
Continue reading »

Compressed Gas Cylindres Can Be A Pain In The Bottom, Again

 Accident, Accident report, explosion, fire/explosion, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on Compressed Gas Cylindres Can Be A Pain In The Bottom, Again
Nov 222011

A pain in the bottom

MAC has previously noted that corroded, pressurised air cylindres in lifeboat can be a pain in the bottom. Step Change In Safety’s latest safety alert is a reminder of the importance of ensuring that compressed air or gas cylinders, fire extinguishers and hydraulic systems are regularly inspected, maintained and hydraulically tested at recommended intervals. They must be renewed if there are any signs of wastage or corrosion, which may be particularly serious in locations that are exposed or enclosed.

Says the alert: An oil tanker’s totally enclosed fibreglass lifeboats were equipped with high-pressure air cylinders stowed beside the keel. One day at sea – shortly after the lifeboats had undergone a 5-yearly inspection by an accredited contractor – one of the compressed air cylinders suddenly and spontaneously burst, resulting in extensive damage to the lifeboat’s keel and hull. Fortunately, no-one was injured. Once the vessel arrived in port, a local lifeboat service company was contracted to investigate the incident and assess the damage with a view to carrying out repairs. In the absence of supporting documents (certificates/ work reports etc.) and from the dates punched on the cylinders, it appeared that it was more than six years since the last hydraulic test of the air cylinders. (IACS Recommendation No.88: Air bottles for air supply in totally enclosed lifeboats should be hydraulic pressure tested by a competent service station recognised by a Recognised Organisation at intervals not exceeding 5 years and the hydrostatic test date must be permanently marked on the bottles.) Continue reading »

Contaminated/Counterfeit Gas Danger to Reefers

 containership, explosion, fire/explosion, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on Contaminated/Counterfeit Gas Danger to Reefers
Nov 072011

Reefers: Are they gassed right?

Britain’s Marime and Coastguard Agency has issued an MIN regarding the explosion of compressors on refrigerated containers, reefers, some fatal, following the use of contaminated refrigerant during maintenance.

Says the MCA: “It has been brought to our attention that a small number of incidents have recently occurred where the compressor unit on reefer containers has exploded. The reason for the failure of the compressor units is still unclear but it would appear that the system, after servicing, has been recharged or ‘topped up’ using contaminated gas.

“A number of shipping companies are aware of the issue and are quarantining reefer units that they suspect contain contaminated refrigeration systems”.

UK P&I Club has circulated part of an analysis by Cambridge Refrigeration Technology: “Refrigerated Container refrigeration units should contain polyolester oil and the refrigerant HFC-134a (1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane) and should therefore be incapable of exploding.

“Material recovered from the exploded units have been analysed by a laboratory and have found to be corroded by a chlorinated compound. Traces of alumina (AL2O3) were also found at the sites.

“From the above data we can be reasonably certain that the pyrophoric liquid ( burns in contact with air) to be is trimethyl aluminium (Al2(CH3)6). The explanation is that the system has been contaminated with a counterfeit refrigerant containing methyl chloride (chloromethane, CH3Cl). This gas works as a refrigerant but reacts with the aluminium in the compressor forming trimethyl aluminium, which is a liquid at room temperature”. Continue reading »

London Club Warns Of Trinidad DRI Explosion Hazards

 explosion, fire, fire/explosion, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on London Club Warns Of Trinidad DRI Explosion Hazards
Sep 112011

A Trinidadian company has been trying to ship HBI Fines. now known as DRI C, without complying with the mandatory requirements of the IMSBC Code warns the London P&I Club in its latest edition of it StopLoss bulletin.

Says the club: “Long-standing concerns about the carriage of Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) increased significantly after casualties on the Marshall Islands flagged Ythan in 2004. A chemical reaction between the DRI C cargo and water contained therein resulted in the production of hydrogen, which accumulated under the hatch covers before igniting and exploding. Industry concerns led to the introduction of specific provisions for the carriage of DRI C in the IMSBC Code.
Continue reading »

Jul 202011

Following the explosion and fire at the Chevron Pembroke Refinery on 2 June Britain’s Health and Safety Executive, HSE, has issued a reminder of  the risks of tank cleaning operations and precautions to be taken. Said to be Britain’s worst refinery incident since 1974, four lives were lost and one person was hospitalised with serious burns.

Three of the deceased were contractors employed by BDS,a local company, working in a large storage tank on the refinery’s sulphur recovery plant. The two other workers were fire marshals from Hertel, a national contracting company. The incident was contained on site and there
were no offsite effects. The refinery is a ‘top tier’ establishment under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (as a  mended), COMAH. Continue reading »