Monday, May 15, 2017

From Container Ships and Tankers to Cruise Liners - Fire at Sea is a Killer

Insurance Club Describes Many a Crews Worst Fear and How to Avoid it
Shipping News Feature
UK – WORLDWIDE – When it comes to safety at sea there is nothing like a mixture of common sense and experience to help avoid potential tragedy and over many years the P&I clubs have always been a font of good advice, after all it is the insurers' interests to avoid such scenarios, especially when giant container carriers and tankers are involved. Thus it is that the Shipowners' Club, the mutual insurance association favoured by many specialist vessel operators and merchant ship charterers, has published some of the ways to avoid that particular crewman's terror - fire at sea.

Drawing on advice from Mark Ross, Fire Investigator for marine survey outfit Brookes Bell, the Club has outlined the most obvious and avoidable risks to a conflagration that cannot just be walked away from. Fire at sea usually means no help at hand, no Fire Brigade rushing to the scene, just a crew with limited resources left in a dangerous and difficult situation that would test even the most experienced of fire-fighters.

The Club’s guidance can be read in full here but the main points covered are:

  • Electrical Fires: Often the result of poor quality fittings and wiring. On many occasions crew may be using electrical equipment in their quarters which has not been suitably tested or using multiple gang plugs due to a lack of power points
  • Engine Room Fires: More than 50% of these are caused by oil leaking onto hot surfaces. All pipes and their fittings must be inspected and repaired regularly

Most fires can be avoided by instituting proper audited protocols in line with the mandatory requirements of the IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The International Safety Management code (ISM) demands a planned maintenance programme to maintain safety standards.

When a fire no matter how small does occur the incident needs to be properly investigated and logged, with the results used to strengthen procedures in the future.

Photo: The Hyundai Fortune ablaze in 2006 south of the Yemeni coastline in an incident that cost shippers and insurers and estimated $800 million.