Liquefied Gas Carrier

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Grounding accident & emergency response for liquefied gas carriers

If the vessel encounters a dangerous situation that may develop into an emergency, it is extremely important that the whole crew know exactly what they should do to save their lives and minimize damage.
The crew must be drilled to take certain actions more or less automatically. However, nobody must act without considering the superfluous consequences. These plans should be used actively during emergency drills.

Grounding accident and immediate action

In the event of the vessel grounding or stranding, the actions to be taken by ship’s personnel will inevitably depend of the seriousness of the incident and the damage that it may have caused to the vessel’s structure and systems.

For example, the grounding might have occurred under pilotage with tugs in attendance, whereby the ship has left a channel and taken to ground on a soft sand bank where the only damage is to the bottom paintwork and slight indentation to the hull. Conversely it could be that the ship has run onto a coral shoal in the middle of nowhere, head on, at full speed and occasioned substantial damage to the hull, possibly causing severe flooding to the engine room, ingress of water to other compartments and damage to the cargo systems, tank structure and insulation.

Action to be taken

Following the initial actions above, the following checks should be carried out to assess the damage already sustained and to limit any further possible damage to a minimum.
  1. Sound all tanks, bilges and spaces for possible water ingress. Assess the rate of any ingress found.

  2. Check the cargo containment system for possible leakage to the interbarrier spaces and ballast tanks. (Changes to normal readings of cargo levels, gas detection devices and temperature probes, along with high level alarms may assist in assessing if leakage has occurred).

  3. Check for over side and internal oil leaks.

  4. Check visually for any apparent hull damage.

  5. Take a series of soundings around the vessel with the hand lead line, to ascertain the likely location of the grounding in relation to the ship’s hull.

  6. Check the vessel’s present draft and compare it to that prior to the stranding.

  7. Attempt to ascertain the nature of the sea bed, using the hand lead and tallow.

  8. Check the state of the tide and the likelihood of the vessel ‘floating off’ at the next high water.

  9. Check the weather forecast, and if it is likely to deteriorate prior to re-floating. Consider putting in additional ballast to prevent pounding and further possible damage.

  10. Check the vessel’s sea suctions for blockage, due to ingress of sand or other debris.

  11. Check the tail shaft for oil loss.

  12. Check the main engine lube oil cofferdam for water contamination.

  13. Check, if possible, the propeller for any damage sustained.

  14. Check the integrity and operation of the ballast system, the cargo pumping system and the level measuring system. Should the situation be such that the loss of the vessel is a possibility, then a distress message should be sent to the nearest Coast Station by any means available. In addition, the vessel must notify the following parties listed below, as soon as possible after the stranding.

  15. DPA or other member of the vessel management. The vessel should continue to contact that person with updates.

  16. If required, and when requested by Ships management the vessel should contact their nominated Damage Stability Provider, contact details in the Damage Stability Manual, and in SOPEP Appendix III.

  17. Note – under no circumstances is the master or anyone else to communicate with third parties unless specifically told that this is acceptable by the Ships Emergency response team.

  18. Should oil pollution have taken place or the possibility of oil pollution be deemed to exist, the Master is required to notify the nearest coastal authorities of the situation. See SOPEP Manual. Addresses and contact numbers of the various coastal authorities are listed in SOPEP Manual

A complete and accurate record, containing all times and details of the incident, shall be kept in the Deck Operations Log, ensuring that copies of all radio communications are included. Should outside salvage assistance be required, details of all salvers and any assistance rendered, by each or all of them, must also be accurately recorded. If possible, any salvage services should be contracted on the ‘No Cure-No Pay’ basis of the Lloyds Open Form of Salvage Agreement. A copy of this form is in SOPEP.

Should any shifting of ballast, cargo or bunkers be necessary to counteract changes in list or trim caused by the incident, the proposals should be sent to the Damage Stability Provider and to Ships management ashore to enable the vessels stability and effects of the stresses on the vessels hull to be calculated by their naval architects.

Similarly should the jettisoning of cargo be deemed necessary to enable the vessel to be re-floated, this should only be done after full consultation with, and the approval of, the DPA and / or the vessel management ashore.

Engine room procedure to follow after grounding

The engineering staff may not be in a position to ascertain that the ship is aground and in normal circumstances will be informed by the bridge. However any grating noises along the ships hull in the machinery space should be considered a possible grounding or collision. In the event of grounding no attempt to re-float the ship will be made without first carrying out a thorough inspection to ascertain any damage.

The following actions should be taken if the bridge informs the engine room that the ship is aground.
  1. The initial response may be to Stop the Main Engine as quickly as possible and secure it, simultaneously with this start the Main Diesel Generator. Please note though with regard to the Main Engine it is our duty to obey Telegraph Orders as long as it possible and sensible to do so.

  2. Stop and secure the steering gear, be aware that the Rudder may be aground/damaged.

  3. Carry out a thorough inspection of the machinery space for structural damage and ingress of water. Due to the double bottom structure in the machinery space it may not be possible to see any structural damage clearly.

  4. Sound all the machinery space tanks that have the ships hull forming part of there boundary. Careful when unscrewing any caps, as there might be water pressure present. This should include Fuel, Water, L.O. and double bottom tanks and dry spaces.

  5. Inform the bridge of your findings and take further soundings at regular intervals.

  6. Record all actions taken in the Engine Log book.

  7. Check all sea inlets/outlets, their associated pumps and coolers are working correctly and not fouled.

  8. Keep a close eye on the stern tube L.O. tank for loss of oil.

  9. Engage turning gear and try to turn shaft. If any strain is shown by the turning gear it must be assumed that the propeller is also aground and the bridge informed of this. No further attempt to turn the shaft should be made until the propeller is clear.

  10. Provide steam to the decks for Anchor and winch operations.

  11. Make ready the Ballast Pumps.

  12. A grounding could cause rapid fouling of Sea Suctions, Pumps and Coolers, with silt, resulting in a Blackout, as such the only power available would be that from the Diesel Generator and the Emergency Generator. Staff must be prepared to respond to situations and priorities which may change quickly.

  13. When the ship is afloat and the engines are ready for use again a close eye should be kept on the shaft bearing and stern tube for overheating or unusual vibrations in case the hull structure has been deformed, causing misalignment.

Immediate action after grounding

a) Sound the general alarm, inform the engine room

b) Consider - stop engine; use anchor

c) Determine extent of the damage by monitoring tank levels and by bilge alarm system

d) Attend any injured people

e) Start ballast pumps / bilge pumps if required

f) Ch. Eng. to inform Master regarding bunker tanks and possibility of oil spill, take measures to avoid it

g) If oil spill in progress, try to minimise and confine

h) Determine stability and bending moments/shearing forces by Load Master

i) Keep vessel upright as far as possible in case of flooding in ballast tanks, by ballasting or de-ballasting other tanks

j) Supply inert gas to hold spaces for inerting hold spaces if necessary

k) Decide whether there is a need for emergency discharge overboard by jettisoning. If jettisoning, remember that two cargo pumps are advisable in order to maintain the necessary velocity at the jettison nozzle

l) Consider – whether external assistance is needed, if it is estimated that the situation will worsen

m) Inform CMSI, Authorities, Insurance/P&I, Owners, AMVER/AUSREP, MAS

n) Consider - actions to reduce further damage

o) If vessel sinking - Send emergency call and emergency message Prepare to abandon vessel

Related Information:

  1. Abandonship procedures - Immediate Evacuation By Own Survival Craft

  2. Collision accident - Emergency procedure for Liquefied Gas carriers

  3. Encountering High Winds and/or Waves - countermeasures

  4. Emergency Procedures for rescue - a guide to salvage operation

  5. Assist Vessel in Distress/Towing of Vessel in Distress

  6. Loss of power supplies - emergency actions

  7. Gas carriers Structural Damage due to Incorrect Loading/Unloading Sequence

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