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The MAIB has released a summary of the findings into two explosions onboard a cargo vessel called Nortrader. The explosions were caused by an accumulation of hydrogen gas emitted by the cargo Nortrader was carrying. The likely source of ignition was later identified as the emergency fire pump starter panel; the emergency fire pump was being tested at the time of the explosion. One crewmember was injured by the explosion and the vessel suffered damage and was out of service for several months.
What is remarkable about this incident is that the cargo being carried was ‘unprocessed incinerator bottom ash’ (U-IBA). U-IBA is not listed in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. The crew had received assurances from the vessel’s charterer that the cargo was ‘non dangerous’ and the vessel had carried the cargo on 34 other occasions. This incident highlights the value of the IMSBC Code and its role in ensuring the safe carriage of cargoes at sea. It is vital for the master to be in full possession of the facts relating to a cargo so that the proper precautions may be taken and potential risks mitigated.
For full details of this incident see the attached MAIB safety flyer.