Deadly confined spaces on the main deck?

M/V Jo Eik (Shipspotting.com/Derek Sands)
M/V Jo Eik (Shipspotting.com/Derek Sands)

One might not normally associate the main deck with confined spaces, but after reading the latest marine accident investigation report from the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) you may think otherwise.  You can read the full report here.

The Accident

The scene of the accident, the P10 cargo tank butterworth hatch. (MAIB
The scene of the accident, the P10 cargo tank butterworth hatch. (MAIB

The Synopsis from MAIB:

Jo Eik loaded a cargo of MARPOL Category “X” Crude Sulphate Turpentine (CST) in Savannah, USA.  Arrangements were made for a Ship to Ship (StS) transfer with the chemical tanker Puccini while alongside the Vopak Terminal at Teesside.  Following the StS transfer,  Jo Eik carried out a mandatory MARPOL prewash using portable washing equipment because the majority of the fixed washing systems were defective.  The washing machine water supply hose was passed through P10 cargo tank inboard Butterworth hatch, which remained open.  As the cargo tank was washed, water mist containing cargo vapours escaped through the open hatch as the tank’s atmosphere was agitated.  The vapours accumulated around the Butterworth hatch in what was an unidentified enclosed space.  The on watch AB entered the area to isolate the cargo pump hydraulic motor valves.   He was immediately overcome and lost consciousness.  The chief officer and another AB attempted to rescue the unconscious AB.  Neither was wearing breathing apparatus.  The chief officer was rapidly overcome.  The AB also suffered the effects of vapour inhalation/oxygen depletion, but managed to escape unaided.

Some areas on the deck of Jo Eik fell into the category of enclosed spaces as defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This was not recognized by the crew, so the appropriate safety precautions were not taken. There was also a complacent attitude regarding the need for respiratory protection during cargo operations. The requirement was not enforced and this put the crew at risk.  Jo Tankers AS has established a range of measures to address its organisational shortcomings. These include instructions for management of unfamiliar cargoes, including those containing H2S, surveying the deck to identify and label areas falling into the enclosed space category, the use of personal gas detectors and repair of the fixed tank washing systems.  A number of recommendations have also been made to Jo Tankers AS. These include actions to ensure pre-arrival conferences are carried out which identify the cargo risks and safety measures required, for the diligent completion of cargo operation checklists, and for enforcing the use of respiratory protection in accordance with the ship’s Quality Management System (QMS).

Some areas on the deck of Jo Eik fell into the category of enclosed spaces as
defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This was not recognised
by the crew, so the appropriate safety precautions were not taken. There was also
a complacent attitude regarding the need for respiratory protection during cargo
operations. The requirement was not enforced and this put the crew at risk.
Jo Tankers AS has established a range of measures to address its organisational
shortcomings. These include instructions for management of unfamiliar cargoes,
including those containing H2S, surveying the deck to identify and label areas falling
into the enclosed space category, the use of personal gas detectors and repair of the
fixed tank washing systems.
A number of recommendations have also been made to Jo Tankers AS. These include
actions to ensure pre-arrival conferences are carried out which identify the cargo
risks and safety measures required, for the diligent completion of cargo operation
checklists, and for enforcing the use of respiratory protection in accordance with the
ship’s Quality Management System (QMS).Some areas on the deck of Jo Eik fell into the category of enclosed spac

Lessons Learned

– Know the hazards of your cargo!  Read and maintain correct MSDS.
– Be aware of hazards created during non-routine operations.
– Open cargo tanks should always raise caution levels and have crew members aware of potential dangers.

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