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Fuel spill during in-port bunkering

The MSF has published the following safety alert regarding an incident in which fuel oil was spilt to sea. The incident occurred when a platform supply vessel (PSV) was bunkering in port.

Crew had been using a ‘jumper hose’ to discharge ‘old’ fresh water overboard using the aft starboard manifold – the plan was to refresh the water tanks later in the day. As is common with this type of operation while the water pump was running, all water manifolds in the system were under pressure and this included the port mid-ships water manifold. Unfortunately, the port mid-ships manifold had a leaking valve.

As the morning progressed a fuel bunkering check list was completed and the vessel started bunkering fuel through the port mid-ships manifold. An AB was in place to watch the fuel hose and check for any leaks. After approximately an hour bunkering, the AB on watch reported smelling fuel and although he couldn’t see where it was leaking from he initiated an emergency stop and informed the shore side to stop pumping. He then looked overboard and saw fuel in the water between the vessel and quayside. SOPEP equipment was deployed and booms put in place around the vessel to contain the fuel.

Port mid-ships fresh water manifold showing water leaking from the cap
Port mid-ships fresh water manifold showing water leaking from the cap
Port mid-ships hose bay & fuel sample/drain cock location
Port mid-ships hose bay & fuel sample/drain cock location

The company investigation revealed that:

  • During the bunkering process fuel had been leaking from the fuel sample/drain cock into the drip tray and draining overboard along with the fresh water originating from the water manifold;
  • The root cause and contributing factors were found to be:
    • the leaking fresh water manifold valve
    • failure to fully ensure the requirements of the ‘pre bunkering’ check list were met
    • although a watchman was in place there was a failure to maintain a proper watch on all areas from which fuel could possibly leak.

The full report can be found at

Members may wish to refer to IMCA Safety Flash 18/16 – all incidents of which relate to the inappropriate or unplanned release of substances or objects

Safety Event

Published: 20 December 2016
Download: IMCA SF 35/16

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