Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/707823
66 Proceedings Summer 2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Fire Destroys Two Tank Barges A tank cleaning operation gone wrong. by Ms. sarah k. weBsTer Former Managing Editor, Proceedings U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist U.S. Bureau of Reclamation In this ongoing feature, we take a close look at recent marine casualties. We outline the U.S. Coast Guard marine casualty investigations that followed, which explore how these incidents occurred, including any environmental, vessel design, or human error factors that contributed to each event. Article information, statistics, conclusions, and quotes come from the f inal, promulgated Coast Guard investigation report. Lessons Learned from USCG Casualty Investigations Another Day at the Dock On April 24, 2013, a towing vessel moored two inland tank barges at a gas freeing marine facility in Mobile, Alabama, for contracted tank cleaning and gas freeing on all cargo tanks. The barges held approximately 11 barrels of residual product (460 gallons of natural gasoline — a fl ammable liq- uid and fi rst distillation of crude oil). The tank cleaning facility was hired by the inland tank barge owner to conduct what is commonly referred to in the industry as a "strip and blow." The work order included the following steps: • Secure barges and prepare equipment. • Open the vapor control system. • Open all cargo tank hatches and all deck hatches. • Prepare pneumatic fans and vacuum truck. • Start stripping, to include dropping and venting cargo lines. • Finish stripping both barges and prepare for gas freeing. On that morning, the facility person in charge (PIC) and the tank cleaning technician prepared for the tank cleaning and gas freeing operation. Between 1 and 2 p.m., the vessel PIC In April 2013, workers from an oil spill removal company were conducting tank cleaning and gas freeing operations on two tank barges when a towing vessel pulled up to berth nearby. Flammable vapors entered inside the incoming tow- ing vessel's engine room and ignited, starting a fire which ignited the flammable vapors around and inside the cargo tanks of the moored tank barges — causing the cargo tanks to explode. The fire and explosions severely injured three persons, caused substantial dam- age to the towing vessel, and destroyed both tank barges.