A CASE of water getting into the steering gear compartment of cement carrier Goliath (IMO 9036430) has prompted a warning about the risks from “disruption of normal routine”.

Goliath, an Australian-flagged ship owned and operated by CSL Australia, was sailing from Melbourne to Devonport at the time of the incident on 7 March 2018.

According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, about 5.30pm on 7 March, the first engineer was called to the engine room where he saw water flowing over the doorstep through the open steering gear room door.

The engineer discovered water coming from a scupper pipe in the steering gear room, which drained into the steering flat bilge well.

This bilge well had not been fitted with an alarm and was manually drained to the engine room bilge.

Consequently, it had overflowed, leading to flooding of the deck to a depth of about 10 cm.

The water had to be pumped out.

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The Bureau registered several findings from its investigation.

These included:

  • A request to manually close the after peak tank ballast line valves was not confirmed or actioned;
  • The after-peak tank filled enough to leak into the holed scupper line within the tank and drain. This overflowed and flooded the steering gear room.
  • There was no structured or formalised system of logging or tracking the status of ballast system manually operated valves, so when closure of the after peak valves was not actioned or confirmed, there was no record at the ballast control panel to show the status of the valves.

CSL Australia has taken the following actions in response:

  • Ballast tank inspection procedures have been reviewed and updated with added emphasis on internal tank fixtures;
  • Fitted a ballast water treatment system in compliance with the Ballast Water Management convention which will remove the need for ballast water exchange;
  • Had the ballast tank remote sounding and alarm system replaced;
  • Had steelwork in the ballast tanks, including piping in the after peak tank, replaced.

“Disruption of normal routine, increased workload and changes of shift personnel increase the potential for error,” the Bureau reported.

“This is particularly important during short sea voyages. All activities carried out during these times need careful and particular attention to ensure all individual tasks are completed and/or their status passed to new personnel.”

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