ACCIDENT OF BULK CARRIER LOADED WITH NICKEL ORE: 10 CAUSES
World maritime history has recorded many accidents of bulk carriers loaded with nickel ore or some other ore, which can turn to liquid mixture. Among them there was some Vietnamese vessels, which entered into the list of vessels surfed with such accident.
Almost such accidents occurred mainly due to human faults and the real causes have often been hidden from public.
Under is a typical accident:
A vessel successfully made many voyages with about nickel ore through year between a port in Indonesia to China. An unlucky voyage in the winter time of South-East China Sea (normally lasts from November to February) has brought her forever lied in the bottom of the sea near to the west coast of Philippines. Almost all crew missed with the vessels except some who fortunately saved later by a passing vessel. The day morning, when the vessel was listed at about 23 degrees on starboard at very rough sea due to north-east monsoon, captain emergently reported the condition to his company. About two hours later, the vessel capsized and sunk without any distress signal transmitted.
Seamen, who saved from the disaster remembered that after reporting to Maritime Safety Department, captain took some actions as taking ballast into a port side tanks in order to upright the ship, mustering all crew in bridge wing on high side with intention of quick abandonment of ship when needed, while considering that lifeboats may not able to be lowered.
10 causes can be briefly highlighted:
1. The loaded cargo that may liquefy had the Moisture Content (MC) exceeds the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML),
2. Vessel was navigating in very bad weather with rough sea, causing vessel to vibrate, roll and pitch heavily. It was the reason of liquefying of the nickel ore cargo.
3. Survey of cargo was not properly done before loading it on vessel. It may happen in some port where surveyor could easy certify the cargo on proposal of the cargo seller.
4. Captain and C/O didn’t regularly make test of the cargo for MC during loading or could not firmly refuse to load the cargo with MC exceeding TML.
5. The cargo may be exposed to rain or moisture weather, especially in raining season in Indonesia and some countries.
6. Company didn’t arrange a cargo surveyor who must ensure that the cargo loaded to be in satisfaction of requirements for safe carrying by sea.
7. Vessel’s captain undertook wrong decision when he intend to upright the vessel by mean of taking ballast in to the side opposite to the listed one, this action led to quick capsizing of the vessel and caused almost crew mustered on high side unexpectedly fell to the sea: the vessel due to her rolling on sea waves capsized on high side, where crew mustered.
8. Vessel’s captain didn’t properly liaised with company’s PIC (or he hesitated to do it) for assistance or recommendation to deal with the accident effectively.
9. Lack of common sense of vessel’s senior officers (Captain & Chief Officer) in cargo handling: they didn’t conduct test the cargo for MC on regular basic nor did it not properly and especially the wrong action of taking ballast.
10. The last reason is that Risk Assessment & Risk Management for ship’s essential operations were not conducted, thus made the officers passively to act in accidents, handle things with a panic.
Capt. Do Ngoc Hoai