Marine 029/18

Status: Open
Recommendation Date: 
22 November 2018
Recipient Name: 
Navim Group
Text:
The nitrogen cylinders that formed part of the stored energy system on board the Emerald Princess were stowed in a harsh marine environment and had significant external corrosion.

The nitrogen cylinders were inspected annually by the manufacturer’s authorised technician. The most recent inspection was two weeks prior to the accident. On each occasion the cylinders were judged to be in satisfactory working condition.

The circumstances of this accident raise the question of whether the current training requirements for authorised technicians are adequate for a pressure vessel stored in a harsh marine environment.

On 22 November 2018 the Commission recommended that the manufacturer carry out a review of its current training processes and ensure that inspections of stored energy systems are carried out by technicians who are trained and certified to inspect them.
Reply Text:
The accident highlighted the need to pay extra attention to all pressured gas cylinders/bottles that, exposed to harsh marine environment (and, sometimes, installed in difficult to reach positions) could experience localized corrosion not easily detected. Therefore, being the safety of human life at sea the core itself of our activity, we already took immediate actions in two ways:

1. We issued a circular letter to ALL involved shipowners in our data base recommending the immediate and thorough inspection of all cylinders on board their fleets and proposing unconditional replacement of all cylinders older than ten years (in respect to manufacturing date);

2. We released an internal bulletin providing to our technical personnel specific instructions on how to improve the level of examination on nitrogen cylinders and, in particular, on how to recognize heavy signs of corrosion and other evident damage.

It must be also stressed that the accident acutely made evident that a vacuum in the actual marine norms and regulations does exist. It is our firm conviction that a coordinate action by Flags administrations, international marine regulation bodies, naval registers as well as shipowners associations will be necessary to fill the current vacuum in order to avoid too much personal interpretation in this delicate; if not feasible to quickly develop specific marine rules, ashore heavy industry standards could be used as a pattern.
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