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SERIOUS MARINE CASUALTY: IGNITION OFFAS FROM CARGO
A bulk cargo ship, loaded with a cargo of Direct Reduced Iron Fines (DRI (C)), arrived and berthed at its discharge port. An explosion occurred when a crew member used a remote controller to jack up and open a hatch cover. Five crew members in the vicinity were injured by fire. The fire spread into the cargo holds. The vessel was attended by shore firemen and the fire was finally extinguished after injecting CO2 into the cargo hold.
Why did it happen?
DRI reacts with moisture to release hydrogen gas. The explosion was caused by ignition of hydrogen gas by an electric spark generated from a defective electric cable of the remote controller.
Hydrogen gas had accumulated inside the deckhouse during the voyage. Based on the master’s voyage orders, the ship was to load Iron Ore Powder.
The master of the vessel did not pay attention to the cargo loaded on board. After loading the master was provided the cargo manifest, which indicated that the ship had been loaded with DRI (C). He had limited knowledge of the cargo and did not consult the IMSBC Code** and carried the cargo as a non-regulated dry bulk cargo.
What can we learn?
Prior to loading DRI (C), shippers must provide masters with a certificate issued by a competent person recognized by the National Administration of the port of loading stating that the cargo meets the requirements of the IMSBC Code and is suitable for shipment.
Masters who determine that DRI (C) was loaded without receiving a certificate issued by a competent person or that the requirements of the ISMBC Code have not been met should immediately contact their Designated Person Ashore.
Ship’s officers should be fully aware of cargo hazards.
(** The individual schedule for DRI (C) in the IMSBC Code contains detailed provisions for the transportation of this cargo, including provisions regarding the maximum moisture limit, inerting and quantitative measurements of hydrogen and oxygen.)