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Non adequate fire protection on boats is a concern says Sea-Fire

“In many ways, it is understandable that fire suppression on board is overlooked. The actual percentage of boat fires in relation to boat usage is very small”.
“In many ways, it is understandable that fire suppression on board is overlooked. The actual percentage of boat fires in relation to boat usage is very small”.

Most marine insurance policies state that boats must have adequate fire protection says Sea-Fire’s Richard Duckworth.

But he says many boatbuilders are fitting the minimum protection they can get away with and crossing their fingers it will never be put to the test.

“For the last 20 years, major production boat builders have recognised they have a duty of care to protect their customers and to fit as standard a comprehensive engine room fire suppression system using fully tested and marine approved components,” says Richard.

“Unfortunately, this is not mirrored across all the industry.”

And he said safety and fire suppression should not be an afterthought in the build or refit process. Instead systems need to be designed specific to each boat as one size does not fit all.

“In many ways, it is understandable that fire suppression on board is overlooked. The actual percentage of boat fires in relation to boat usage is very small,” he said. “However, as boats have become larger, the equipment fitted on-board has grown exponentially.

“This increase in power hungry equipment has led to an increase in the fire risk.”

This is made worse by the fact that a fire at sea is a serious risk to life and leads to the total loss of the boat if it can’t quickly be brought under control.

And Richard pointed out that the best in class fire suppression systems are clean agent full flooding systems which comprise a cylinder, located in the engine room, automatic and manual release via a thermal bulb and a pull cable and a machinery shutdown unit.

“There is no point in committing to a clean agent system if the first thing that happens during a fire is for the agent to be immediately depleted by the exhaust and ventilation,” he said.

“The sustainable clean agent for the future is 3M Novec 1230. As other agents with high global warming potentials are currently being phased out, the fire industry has adopted Novec 1230 as the most effective solution with the best environmental profile.”

Richard added: “Measured over the lifetime of the boat, a fire suppression system is probably one of the best value purchases that boat owners can make to ensure the protection of their investment and the safety of their family and friends.”

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RCR cites lack of vessel maintenance as reason for increasing number of call outs

RCR engineers frequently come across vessels with no smoke or CO alarms that have fire risks and ventilation issues.
RCR engineers frequently come across vessels with no smoke or CO alarms that have fire risks and ventilation issues.

River Canal Rescue (RCR) is urging boaters to pay more attention to vessel maintenance and safety following an increase in the number of call-outs for faults caused by what it describes as a general lack of maintenance.

In 2016, this amounted to 948 call-outs, in 2017 there were 1031 and in 2018 RCR had 1081 call-outs due to lack of maintenance and safety, together with continuing fires and CO poisoning incidents.

“Boaters who fail to maintain their vessels or pay attention to boat safety put themselves and others at risk,” said RCR operations director, Jay Forman.

He said, “With rental costs spiralling across the UK, boats are a cheap accommodation option and so are increasing in popularity. Yet we find many boaters unfamiliar with even basic engine workings and therefore unlikely to pay attention to maintenance.”

He added: “This can cause a problem if a vessel moves from its mooring, breaks down and obstructs the waterway.”

And he said RCR engineers frequently come across vessels with no smoke or CO alarms that have fire risks and ventilation issues.

“It’s frightening when you think of the hazards on boats such as diesel, oils and combustible materials. The most common fires are electrical, engine space and solid fuel related so it’s vital boat owners pay attention to these areas,” explained Jay.

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Boat docking just got simpler with the launch of Raymarine DockSense

The system is designed to augment a captain's boat handling skills using the system’s Virtual Bumper zone technology around the vessel.
The system is designed to augment a captain’s boat handling skills using the system’s Virtual Bumper zone technology around the vessel.

FLIR Systems has launched the Raymarine DockSense assisted docking system, which it bills as the marine industry’s first intelligent object recognition and motion sensing assisted docking solution for recreational boating.

The DockSense system uses FLIR machine vision camera technology and video analytics to integrate intelligence gathered from surrounding imagery with the vessel’s propulsion and steering system to assist boat owners in tight quarter docking manoeuvring.

“Raymarine DockSense assisted docking system embodies our focus on solutions by combining FLIR navigation, machine learning and sensing technologies,” explained Jim Cannon, FLIR president and CEO.

He continued, “Most importantly, we bring these innovations together into a simple solution that addresses a key customer challenge by taking the stress out of docking a boat and makes the boating experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone onboard.”

The system is designed to augment a captain’s boat handling skills using the system’s Virtual Bumper zone technology around the vessel.

Should an object or another vessel encounter the Virtual Bumper, DockSense has been designed to automatically introduce corrective steering and throttle commands to avoid the object and assist the captain in guiding the vessel to the dock.

The system uses GPS and attitude heading reference system position sensing technology to compensate for wind and currents.

Multiple FLIR machine vision cameras, a central processing module and the DockSense App running on Raymarine’s Axiom navigation display are incorporated.

The system integrates with modern joystick propulsion systems.

Prestige Yachts will become the first production boat builder to use the technology

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Shipowners Club warns of the dangers following a spate of enclosed space incidents

Between September and November 2018, there were 8 reported fatalities related to enclosed spaces.
Between September and November 2018, there were 8 reported fatalities related to enclosed spaces.

Although the industry continuously reminds the industry of the dangers of entering enclosed spaces, this remains the hidden enemy for crews. Between September and November 2018, there were 8 reported fatalities related to enclosed spaces. With this ongoing issue in mind the Shipowners Club has published a sample risk assessment addressing the various hazards associated with entering enclosed spaces.

In a span of just 18 months, the Club alone has experienced 15 related claims due to falls, asphyxiation, explosive burns and six fatalities. These alarming statistics have prompted the Club to produce a sample risk assessment on enclosed space entry as part of its ongoing campaign.

The guidance addresses the various hazards associated with an enclosed space entry operation, enclosed space entry requirements and the more detailed points to be considered when implementing control measures to minimise the impact of the identified hazards.

Key points

– No entry to be permitted into an enclosed space unless the prescribed enclosed space entry procedures are followed and a permit to work issued. This must include a formal risk assessment to identify potential hazards and risk mitigation methods to control them accordingly.
– All potential enclosed spaces onboard each fleet vessel must be identified and marked accordingly at entry points. This is not a set list as some spaces may become enclosed or otherwise hazardous depending on the circumstances and so assessments should be carried out periodically.
– It must be kept in mind that a toxic atmosphere can exist in all enclosed spaces (on all vessel types – not necessarily on tankers) including but not restricted to cargo spaces, double bottoms, fuel tanks, ballast tanks, cargo pump-rooms cargo compressor rooms, cofferdams, chain lockers, void spaces, duct keels inter-barrier spaces, boilers, engine crankcases, engine scavenge air receivers, sewage tanks, and adjacent connected spaces. Methane gas is predominant on cargo vessels carrying coal in bulk.
– Enclosed entry procedures must be carried out for all personnel entering an enclosed space on board and not only limited to ship’s personnel.
– If a crew member is not comfortable with the atmosphere, they must be made aware they have the right to refuse entry into the enclosed space entry. If hot work or other tasks are to be performed within an enclosed space, an additional permit to work must be issued to supplement the enclosed space entry permit.

Read the sample risk assessment document: Shipowners-Club-Entry-into-enclosed-spaces-risk-assessment

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Beware the dangers of aluminium dross

If the product meets the Class 4.3 criteria, it should be declared as UN 3170, noting the application of Special Provision 244 regarding ventilation and protection against water ingress throughout the intended journey.
If the product meets the Class 4.3 criteria, it should be declared as UN 3170, noting the application of Special Provision 244 regarding ventilation and protection against water ingress throughout the intended journey.

The UK P&I Club and the TT Club have published advice following an incident involving a consignment of aluminium pellets (or dross) that was found at the port of loading with the doors and sides of the container blown out. The terminal arranged to test the samples, as there was no evidence that the unit had been dropped during handling.

The test results indicated that aluminium dross is highly susceptible to a reaction with chlorides when moisture is present. The commodity produces gases when exposed to moisture and the build-up of gasses was considered the most likely cause of the container exploding.

The container was damaged beyond repair and it is understood that some lines and ports are refusing this cargo commodity.

According to the UK Club, at the time the material is tested, before filling the container and subsequent shipping, the moisture level is such that the reaction with the commodity does not generate gas at enough rate to meet the UN hazard class 4 criteria. However, the reaction is slow, so after some time there is the possibility of an explosion. This may deform the side panels, but it is also able to ‘pop’ the container where it is joined to the frame.

Such materials are variable in both physical and chemical composition. While there may be evidence that at the time of testing there was not enough moisture to create a reaction which supplies sufficient hydrogen to meet the test criteria, it may not be known how the product has been stored or weather conditions before or at the time of being put in the cargo transport unit.

Because the commodity may be hygroscopic, working with the shippers to limit any time between testing and packing may help in ensuring that representative sampling and testing are improved. It may also be helpful to seek longer test periods for such materials before shipment. If the product meets the Class 4.3 criteria, it should be declared as UN 3170, noting the application of Special Provision 244 regarding ventilation and protection against water ingress throughout the intended journey.

The UK Club suggested that carriers work with shippers on any bookings for recycled aluminium carried in bulk in containers to gain more certainty about pre-shipment controls necessary to avoid excessive moisture content that may lead to a build-up of gasses while transit.

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