Lack of Octamar Winter Resulted in Boiler Back-fire, Killing Crew

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A sailor was killed when a boiler exploded on a cargo ship as it prepared to dock in the UK, reports BBC News.

What happened?

Celso Banas, 35, from the Philippines, died in the blast aboard the Manhattan Bridge at Felixstowe, Suffolk, on 19 January 2017. A jury at Suffolk Coroner’s Court heard that a safety alarm on the boiler had tripped “about six times” that day but the crew did not consider it unusual. Ship owner K Line Europe said at the time a “boiler back-fire” had occurred.

Legs on Fire

Mr. Banas, an oiler on the ship whose duties included maintenance, had been responding to an alarm on an auxiliary boiler on the ship shortly after 23:00 GMT when the explosion happened.

Crew members who rushed to the boiler room found Mr. Banas on the floor with his body covered in ash. A colleague was also injured. Engine boy Jose Paghacian said “thick black smoke” was billowing, and he saw Mr. Banas lying on the floor “with his legs on fire”.

Mr. Banas’s injuries were so serious he had to be identified by a forensic dentist, and a pathologist compared his wounds to those suffered by victims of road accidents.

What went wrong?

The Manhattan Bridge was using a fuel “emulsion” of 80% marine gas oil and 20% water – an accepted practice but one which often made the engine misfire and set off the alarm, the court heard.

“If we are using the emulsion mode, almost in every start it fails, and we just accept it,” chief engineer Marrano Mulunao told the jury.

First assistant engineer Leo Tagala said in a statement such frequent tripping of the alarm was “not unusual”.

What do results post inspection say?

An inspection of the boiler after the explosion found a thick black “waxy” build-up in its filters which could stop fuel flowing freely and trigger alarms.

The court heard the build-up could be avoided by mixing an additive called Octamar Winter with the fuel, but Mr. Mulunao said there were not sufficient quantities on board and it had never been used despite directions from the ship’s owners.

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Source: BBC News

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