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.

The Role of General Average in the Maritime Industry

“General Average” is a term used in the maritime industry to define shares in a common loss during maritime accident.


Defined by York Antwerp rules 1994 of General Average, these rules lay guidelines for the distribution of loss in an event when cargo has to be jettisoned in order to save the ship, crew, or the remaining cargo.

The rule states the apportionment of losses amongst the parties involved in any maritime adventure in case of an extra ordinary sacrifice or if the expenditure is made intentionally with proper justification that the causes for the same involved preserve the other property from risk of being lost.




The underlying cause which led to introduction of General Average was, in event of the grave situations where safety of ship, crew members and cargo was jeopardized.

It’s always a difficult decision for ship’s crew to take appropriate action to save the interests of cargo owners and the ship. The time constraints in such exigencies don’t allow the ship’s crew to decide which cargo to jettison and which to leave. Consequently there would be a hot debate arising among cargo and ship owners as to whose cargo has been jettisoned and whose interests compromised. The loss being totally on the account of the person whose cargo has been discharged.

Thus, in order to regulate unprejudiced interests of all those parties who enter into a common maritime venture, a powerful tool named General  Average was introduced, in the York Antwerp rules of 1890 and later reviewed and amended recently in 1994.

The clauses of General Average under the York Antwerp Rules 1994 can be simplified as under

  • A loss is deemed to be considered under general average if and only if the reason of sacrifice is extraordinary or the sacrifice is reasonably made for the purpose of common safety for preserving the property involved .E.g.  Capsizing due to inclement weather condition, shifting of cargo leading to excessive listing of vessel



  • When two or more vessels are pushing or towing and are involved in a commercial reason, then general average applies if they disconnect from each other in order to preserve the vessel and the cargo
  • General average shall be applied only for those losses which are linked directly with the material value of the cargo carried or the vessel. Any claims arising due to the delay, a loss or expense caused due to loss of market  or any indirect loss must not be accounted into general average
  • Each party’s share in the general average should not be determined by fault based approach. The risk borne by all should be equal in all aspects. Though if one of the parties actions has resulted in the loss, legal actions can be taken against those actions
  • Average adjusters are individuals or institutions looking after claims arising due to general average. The parties of a general average claim should send a written notice to them within 12 months from the date of termination of the common maritime agreement between the parties involved. If they do not receive this notice the adjusters are entitled to proceed with all available information with them
  • If a vessel or cargo is damaged by water, including damage by beaching or sinking a burning ship in order to extinguish the fire, then that damage shall be countable as general average. Also if a vessel is grounded intentionally for common safety, it excludes damage caused by smoke or heat of fire



  • If salvage operations are carried out in order to save or prevent the loss of cargo, or to prevent or reduce an environmental damage, the expenditures involved and the remunerations to salvors should be allowed in general average
  • If any vessel has been grounded and the cargo is liable to get damaged, then efforts can be made to refloat the vessel. However if such efforts cause damage to boilers or machinery of the vessel it shall be made as general average
  • The procuring expenses of any cargo, fuel or ship’s stores upon being discharged as per general average act shall be admitted into general average
  • Loss of freight incurred to the owner by due to loss or damage of cargo should be included in general average , however it is important to deduct from it the expenses which would have incurred by the owner  for carriage as they were not actually incurred
  • If cargo is sold in damaged condition, the general average amount is the difference between net sound and net damaged value

SOLAS, MARPOL amendments entered into force on 1 January 2014

SOLAS, MARPOL amendments entered into force on 1 January 2014

ship freefall lifeboat

A number of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)  and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol  entered into force or took effect from 1 January 2014.
The amendments cover passenger ship safety (in relation to safe return to port after a flooding casualty); the testing of free-fall lifeboats; minimum safe manning levels;  prohibition of blending onboard; the revised MARPOL Annex III; the United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area; and the Winter Seasonal Zone off the southern tip of Africa.


2012 May SOLAS amendments
The SOLAS amendments which entered into force on 1 January 2014 include the following:
– amendment to SOLAS regulation II-1/8-1, to introduce a mandatory requirement for new passenger ships for either onboard stability computers or shore-based support, for the purpose of providing operational information to the Master for safe return to port after a flooding casualty;
– amendment to SOLAS regulation III/20.11.2 regarding the testing of free-fall lifeboats, to require that the operational testing of free-fall lifeboat release systems shall be performed either by free-fall launch with only the operating crew on board or by a simulated launching;
– amendment to SOLAS chapter V to add a new regulation V/14 on ships’ manning, to require Administrations, for every ship, to establish appropriate minimum safe manning levels following a transparent procedure, taking into account the guidance adopted by IMO (Assembly resolution A.1047(27) on Principles of minimum safe manning); and issue an appropriate minimum safe manning document or equivalent as evidence of the minimum safe manning considered necessary;
– amendment to SOLAS chapter VI to add a new regulation VI/5-2, to prohibit the blending of bulk liquid cargoes during the sea voyage and to prohibit production processes on board ships;
– amendment to SOLAS chapter VII to replace regulation 4 on documents, covering transport information relating to the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form and the container/vehicle packing certificate; and
– amendment to SOLAS regulation XI-1/2 on enhanced surveys, to make mandatory the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code, resolution A.1049(27)).
2010 October MARPOL amendments
The amendments which entered into force on 1 January 2014 include a revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form, to include changes to the Annex to coincide with the next update of the mandatory International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, specifying that goods should be shipped in accordance with relevant provisions.
United States Caribbean ECA now effective 
The United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area (SOx, NOx and PM) came into effect, under MARPOL Annex VI, on 1 January 2014, bringing in stricter controls on emissions of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter for ships trading in certain waters adjacent to the coasts of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
The ECA was designated under MARPOL amendments adopted in July 2011. There are now four three designated ECAs in effect globally: the United States Caribbean Sea ECA and the North American ECA; and the sulphur oxide ECAs in the Baltic Sea area and the North Sea area.
(See: MARPOL Annex VI regulation 14)
Coordinates for the Caribbean Sea ECA can be found in Resolution MEPC.202(62).
Winter Seasonal Zone moved south under amendments to LL Protocol
Amendments to regulation 47 of the 1988 Protocol to the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), 1966 to shift the Winter Seasonal Zone off the southern tip of Africa further southward by 50 miles, came into effect on 1 January 2014.


IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

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