Thursday, 29 May 2014

One person missing and four severely burned following explosion on Japanese oil tanker.

Four crew members are being treated for severe burns and one is missing following an explosion on the Shoko Maru, a Japanese oil tanker, close to the port of Himeji at about 9.30 am local time on Thursday 29 May 2014. All of the crew are said to be Japanese citizens, and the missing man has been identified as ship's captain, Masaichi Ando, 64. The 998 tonne ship is operated by Hiroshima-based Syoho Shipping, and is understood to have unloaded its cargo of crude oil at a port in Hyogo Prefecture shortly before the incident.

Thick black smoke issuing from the Shoko Maru following the 29 May 2014 explosion. Japan Coast Guard.

The cause of the explosion has yet to be explained, though an official from Syoho Shipping has stated that one of the crew members was using an angle-grinder to remove paint prior to the explosion and speculated that this may have been the cause. Slightly counter-intuitively, oil tankers are at a greater risk of explosions when they are empty than when they are full. This is because the empty tankers often contain a mixture of flammable oil fumes and oxygen-rich air, while a full cargo of crude oil is both less flammable and excludes air from the tanks. To this end many tankers fill their tanks with an inert gas, typically nitrogen, when not filled with oil. It is uncertain if this procedure was used on the Shoko Maru, and if so whether the system was working prior to the incident.

The reported position of the Shoko Maru at the time of the 29 May 2014 explosion. Vessel Finder.

See also...


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A passenger ferry has sunk at the entrance to the Port of Cebu on Friday 16 August 2013. The 2GO operated MV Thomas Aquinas...




Fuel oil is leaking from a cargo ship which ran aground near Knysna in Western Cape Province earlier this week. The 165 m bulk carrier Kiani Satu, believed to be carrying a cargo of rice, ran aground on Thursday morning in 5 m swells, having apparently developed engine problems shortly after leaving Cape Town on route for Gabon. The nineteen member...


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