Investigation carried out by a member of the Red Ensign Group receives praise

A casualty investigation carried out by a member of the Red Ensign Group into the thermal decomposition of a cargo of ammonium nitrate based fertiliser ('ANBF') has been praised by industry. 

The recommendations from the Isle of Man Registry will also be  presented to the International Maritime Organization ('IMO').     

The Isle of Man Ship Registry investigated the circumstances of the incident which occurred on the bulk carrier 'Cheshire' in August last year. It was carrying ANBF cargo which began to decompose early in its intended voyage from Norway to Thailand.  The best efforts from the crew to halt the reaction were unsuccessful, and the toxic gas cloud emitted meant that the ship had to be abandoned. The thermal decomposition continued resulting in extensive damage to the ship's structure meaning it was subsequently declared a constructive total loss.   

ANBF (non-hazardous) is currently classed as Group C cargo under the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. 

Although the report from the Isle of Man Ship Registry has not led to a recommendation for reclassifying the fertiliser, there are a number of proposed changes being put forward including  changing the Bulk Cargo Shipping Name for this cargo from 'ANBF (non-hazardous)' to 'ANBF (not otherwise classified)'. 

The report also recommends introducing a requirement for thermographic determination to check for hot-sports in cargo holds before any ANBF cargoes are loaded. Other recommendations include safety management systems to include ANBF-specific guidance including measurements to be recorded and trended, and specific emergency information to be provided by fertiliser manufacturers in their Material Safety Data Sheets. 

In all, the report provides four areas of recommendation which have been put forward to the IMO by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency on behalf of the UK. 

Dick Welsh, Director of the Isle of Man Ship Registry said: 'It is great to see movement on this issue. We all need to have a better understanding of the hazards that led to this incident so that we can work towards reducing the risk. It was important that we fed the results of our investigation into that process in order to assist what happens next.' 

Richard Pellew, co-chair of the REG Technical Forum said: 'We know that the REG members have a lot of expertise to share with the wider maritime industry. This is another example of how the REG continues to uphold and maintain safety at sea not just for its own flagged vessels but the wider community.' 

Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety & Standards at the MCA and Permanent Representative to the IMO said: 'The investigation carried out by the Isle of Man Registry found issues that needed to be addressed by the international maritime community. As a result, the Isle of Man's findings have significantly contributed to the basis of the discussions at the IMO. The work undertaken by the Isle of Man, which will be presented by the UK at this weeksSub-Committee for the Carriage of Cargoes & Containers, will help the IMO to find the best way forward for a safe solution."