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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Owners advised to check bunker tank integrity... especially newbuilds

21 Aug 2017 13:17 GMT

P&I club highlights incident where fuel leaked from a bunker tank into a cargo hold because the tank access lids had not been closed properly.



The UK P&I Club (UK P&I) has advised owners and operators to check the integrity of bunker tanks, highlighting an incident involving fuel leaking from a bunker tank into a cargo hold because the tank access lids had not been properly closed.

UK P&I refers to a bulk cargo loading operation where an unnamed vessel bunkered 500 metric tonnes (mt) of heavy fuel oil (HFO) into the no. 2 fuel oil tanks on the port and starboard side.

When the bunkering operation was completed, the chief engineer noticed that the level of the no. 2 port side fuel oil tank was decreasing from observation of the remote gauging system.

Upon investigation, the chief engineer is said to have found "a large quantity of fuel oil" in the no. 3 cargo hold ladder trunk, and immediate measures are then said to have been taken to transfer fuel from no. 2 port side tank to other bunker tanks.

Approximately 60 mt of fuel was calculated to have leaked into no. 3 cargo hold containing about 2,200 mt of cargo. Further investigation revealed that the oil was leaking from an inadequately secured tank access cover. Approximately 200 mt of cargo was contaminated, which was segregated, packed in bags and discharged.

Analysis

In an analysis of the incident, UK P&I noted that the vessel was a newbuild and it was the first time that no. 2 port fuel oil tank had been filled since departing the shipyard.

It was also evident that one of the tank access lids had not been properly closed at the time of delivery as a large number of securing nuts were found to be slack after the incident, UK P&I explained.

Although the damaged cargo was sold to a local salvage buyer at a depreciated value, UK P&I observed that a large amount of time and expense was consumed in handling and storing the damaged cargo as well as in thoroughly cleaning the contaminated cargo holds.

Conclusions

Looking at the lessons to be learnt from the incident, UK P&I warns that the first voyage of a vessel after delivery from the builders is "critical", and that it is very often the time when shipyard deficiencies are discovered.

The P&I club also observes that the water/oil tight integrity of tanks must be tested and confirmed by owner's representatives prior to taking delivery from the shipbuilders.

It also warns that failure to ensure that bunker and ballast tank access lids in way of the cargo hold boundaries are tight before commencement of the voyage may render the vessel unseaworthy.

"In the event of a claim, the owner's ability to rely on customary Hague Visby Rule rights and immunities will be prejudiced," UK P&I stressed.

Image: Oil tank cover on a merchant navy ship.




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