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Saturday, November 17, 2018

INTERTANKO provides statement in Hebei Two Appeal proceedings

INTERTANKO has given a statement to be used in the pending appeal in the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea against the criminal convictions of the Hebei Two. 


Without commenting on the specific details of the Hebei Spirit incident, the statement addresses the usual accepted good practice within the industry following a casualty involving a tanker, as well as good seamanship and tanker safety. It highlights the absolute priority to ensure the safety of the crew and the ship, and also the importance of verifying the water tightness of the tanks by taking soundings of all tanks and spaces on board. On a tanker the size of the Hebei Spirit, such soundings might take some 2-3 hours. Only then can the Master assess the potential for remedial action e.g. cargo transfer. Even then, any transfer must be done in a controlled fashion and at an appropriate speed to avoid any further spillage.


The statement also refers to the very real threat of explosion following a collision. After the safety of crew and ship, the Master’s focus should be to prevent fire/explosion using inert gas. By providing inert gas instead of air into the cargo tanks, the atmosphere in the tanks is maintained outside the flammable range. The IMO is currently reviewing the inert gas regulations for new tankers in recognition of the benefit of inert gas in preventing fire and explosion.


The statement is supported by relevant extracts from IMO Guidance including the most recent guidance on the provision of Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plans (SOPEPS) and the International Code for Fire Safety System, Chapter 15 on Inert Gas Systems, issued by the IMO in 2001.


Whilst INTERTANKO will not be called to give oral evidence in Korea, the statement will form part of the expert evidence presented to the Supreme Court.


Contact: Michele White