Confined Space Deaths Highlight Timber Hazards

Two men, a Russian chief officer and a Ukrainian chief engineer have died in a hold containing timber while a third, a Filipino second officer who attempted tclip_image004o rescue them collapsed by survived.

The incident is under investigation by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch while the report will not be available for some time the incident does highlight the confined space hazards of timber in cargo holds  and the continuing problem of would-be rescuers being overcome while attempting to recover victims.

Sally Ann C is a 9000 gt Isle of Man-registered general cargo ship operated by Carisbrooke Shipping, based on the Isle of Wight. At the time of the incident she was carrying a cargo of timber en route to Dakar, Senegal.

All that is presently known is that the chief officer and chief engineer entered one of the vessel’s four holds and collapsed. Subsequently the second officer tried to rescue them but also collapsed. He was successfully revived.

Timber in its various forms, from pellets to logs is hazardous. Oxidation of wood reduced oxygen in the atmosphere and produces a range of potentially hazardous gases including carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide.

In the Suntis incident in 2014, for example, the Fire and Rescue Service analysis of the atmosphere after the accident showed normal readings (20.9%) of oxygen content at the access hatch; the readings reduced to 10% just below main deck level inside the hatch opening and to between 5% and 6% at the bottom of the ladder into the compartment. Such low levels of oxygen cannot support life. Anyone exposed to such levels will faint almost immediately, followed by convulsions, coma and respiratory seizure within a few minutes. It is likely that the timber cargo caused the deprivation of oxygen in the cargo hold and access compartments.

In 2010 another chief officer died, along with a member of the deck crew who tries to rescue him, aboard the bulker TPC Wellington. In the case the chief officer had been warned against entry by the bosun but ignored the warning. It took less than 1o minutes for the chief officer and the man who tried to rescue him to die.

New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission noted: “The dangers of the organic decomposition of logs and other organic cargos in enclosed spaces are well known in the international maritime community, and were documented on board the TPC Wellington, but in spite of this the high risk this posed to the crew had not been identified, no specific training had been given to the crew members to heighten their awareness of the risk, and no emergency drills had been conducted in recent times for rescue from enclosed spaces”.

In 2006 in Sweden 12 people were taken to hospital and five required decompression chamber treatment. Seven people have died and several have been injured under similar circumstances in Sweden over a two year period.

BIMCO issued a warning about the hazards presented by wood in 2005.

Sadly, two out of three confined space casualties are people who tried to rescue the first victim.

Confined space incident are common and completely avoidable.

All confined space rescue drills should be conducted as realistically as possible. You can use the many confined space accident reports, and podcasts, in MAC to increase your crew’s safety awareness.

The rules for surviving are simple:

  • Never enter a confined space unless absolutely necessary.
  • Complete the permit to work before entry
  • Alert rescue teams and the bridge
  • Assess the risks, including those presented by any cargo that may be in the space.
  • Put appropriate rescue equipment at the point of access.
  • Ensure that a safety monitor is in position outside the space who can raise the alarm.
  • Ventilate the space thoroughly before entry.
  • Test the atmosphere in the hold thoroughly before entry.
  • If possible wear an O2 monitor while inside the space.
  • When in Doubt, Stay Out.

NASSCO Launches World’s First LNG-Powered Container Ship


The US shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO christened and launched the world’s first container ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) at its shipyard in San Diego on April 18.
Part of a two-ship contract signed in 2012 with TOTE, the 764-foot long Marlin-class container ship is the largest dry cargo ship of any kind in the world powered by LNG.
The Isla Bella is also equipped with a ballast water treatment system, making it the greenest ship of its size, according to NASSCO.
The Jones Act-qualified Isla Bella will operate between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Yesterday’s ceremony also marked NASSCO’s 100th ship launch.
In a nighttime ceremony attended by around 3,400 shipyard workers and guests, the 3,100 TEU Isla Bella, built for the US transport and logistics company TOTE Inc., officially took to water at the San Diego Bay, accompanied by a fireworks display.
The ship’s sponsor, Sophie Sacco—wife of Michael Sacco, president of the Seafarers International Union of North America, christened the ship with a traditional champagne bottle break over the ship’s hull.
The name of the ship was revealed during the ceremony.
The Marlins, which will home port in Jacksonville, Florida, will enter service in late 2015 and early 2016 replacing 1970-built ships operating in the Puerto Rico trade.
The ships feature 3,100 in TEU and are expected to create a reduction of sulfur dioxide (SOx) emissions by 98 percent, particulate matter (PM) by 99 percent, nitrous oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 71 percent over TOTE’scurrent ships on the route.
The design has been provided by DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), located in Busan, South Korea. It includes DSME’s patented LNG fuel-gas system and the world’s first order of a MAN ME-GI dual fuel slow speed engine.
Both ships surpass the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air regulations.
TOTE has signed a long-term agreement with Pivotal LNG and WesPac Midstream to LNG to fuel its two new containerships.
When completed the 764-foot-long containerships are expected to be the largest ships of any type in the world primarily powered by LNG.
The total capital committed to the project is over $350 million.

Suez Canal Unaffected by Yemen Crisis


The passage of ships through the Suez Canal has not been affected by the ongoing military clashes in Yemen, according to a Suez Canal Authority (SCA) official.

“Since the military operation in Yemen was launched last week, revenues from the Suez Canal, along with marine traffic, has been normal compared to the same period last year,” Mahmoud Rizk, director of the department of planning at SCA was quoted by Egyptian daily newspaper Al Ahram.

The statement was made during a tour of Arab media representatives of the New Suez Canal project on Wednesday.

Head of SCA, Mohab Mamish said on Saturday, April 4th, that preparations are underway for the inauguration ceremony of the New Suez Canal.

Mamish said the dredging works at the new waterway project will be finalized before the deadline.

He made it clear that the Suez Canal Authority will be responsible for running the Suez Canal Corridor Development project until a new body is formed.

The expansion project will pave the way for transit of ships of up to 66 feet in draft, thus increasing the revenue of the canal to up to $17 billion a year.

Launching of air strikes by Saudi Arabia on Houthi militias’ positions on March 25th has raised concerns of the shipping industry about the safety of important trade routes in the area, in particular of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said that navigation in the Red Sea and protecting Bab Al-Mandeb are a top priority for the Egyptian national security.

Yemen’s Port of Aden was last reported to be virtually closed except for some oil shipments at Aden Refinery, according to GAC’s update.

Houthi rebels advanced further into the port city of Aden, despite the Saudi air strikes, according to the latest media reports.