Did they die twice?

There are numerous maritime incidents every day.  Sometimes they come to light through social media posts, news articles or word of mouth.  Regardless, the official accident reports are sometimes years in the making.  Therefore, we at the Maritime Safety Innovation Lab use a variety of methods for tracking these.  The simplest, such as the confined space casualty on MV Green World involved an email to our own account.  It was very simple – no subject, no information – just a link to an article, but comes with the risk of being overcome by the volume of emails.

And that email remained in the inbox until yesterday, 07 September 2023.  This long overdue email demanded a response, a followup, an accounting of some sort that a lesson had been learnt by the maritime industry.  So we started pulling at threads, with the first threads being provided by the FleetMon article – a date, name of the ship and the port in which the incident occurred.

IMO GISIS (Global Integrated Shipping Information System) contains a database of Marine Casualties and Incidents.  This information is drawn from flag and coastal state reporting, as required under the IMO’s Casualty Investigation Code.  Accessing the public area of GISIS and conducting a search of the database for variations of the date range, name of the ship and coastal state generated no results.

Next, it was time to pull on the thread of the ship name.  MV Green World.  It turns out that the vessel was Panama-flagged.  Was, because the vessel was scrapped on Gdani Beach in Pakistan in August 2020.  So, we now have the flag state of the vessel and the coastal state.  Unfortunately, a search of both countries maritime investigation websites revealed no mention of the Green World or the two Myanmar seafarers who died onboard.

The only thread left was the operating company or companies, as it was found that Asia Pacific Ship Management Pte Ltd was listed as the operator whereas Soon Fong Shipping Pte Ltd was noted as selling the vessel for scrap.  It can’t be said that they are the same entity, but it appears they are at least neighbors in the same building in Singapore.  Green World’s owner was Seabright Shipping Inc. of Panama, as stated in the AMSA Detention List for July 2018.  It was at that time that Green World had been detained in Esperance, Australia, as, “The Safety Management System does not ensure critical equipment is maintained as evidenced by the serious deficiencies identified during inspection.”

Attempting to contact the only email address/contact that could be gleaned from the internet for Asia Pacific Ship Management Pte Ltd yielded no results.  As such, we can’t say whether or not an internal report was done or not.  Nor can we say what were the lessons learned.  What we do know is:

  • Two seafarers from Myanmar died onboard or as a result of injuries sustained on MV Green World on 01 February 2019
  • Those injuries were reportedly due to exposure to toxic fumes from the wood chip/pulp cargo
  • No accident report was registered in IMO GISIS
  • Incidents of this type, including fatalities, are a known risk in the solid biomass segment

Referring to the 2017 paper from Intech, “Fatal Accidents During Marine Transport of Wood Pellets Due to Off-Gassing – Experiences from Denmark,” abstract,

The atmosphere in unventilated wood pellet storage confinements, such as the cargo hold of marine vessels transporting pellets in solid bulk, can be severely oxygen deficient and contain deadly concentrations of harmful gasses, of which the most feared is the poisonous and odour-less carbon monoxide. The hazard has been known for over a decade and has been responsible for many accidents…It is generally recognized that accidents should be thoroughly investigated and lessons learned shared widely in order to minimize the number of times the same lessons have to be learned.”

That these lessons are being learned over and over and that injuries, including fatalities, continue in confined/enclosed spaces indicate that the lessons learned – lessons written in blood – are not being absorbed by the maritime industry. If you knew these seafarers, if you work with cargo that may produce toxic gases or an oxygen-deficient atmosphere, if you are working with confined or enclosed spaces of any type, consider the lesson the two seafarers on MV Green World have taught us and repeat them to your crews and colleagues.  Don’t let them have perished for naught.

But, we, as an industry, don’t even know their names.  Perhaps they did die twice.


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