Marine safety investigations & reports

Fatality at sea on board the Liberian registered multipurpose ship Cape Darnley on 8 July 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At about 0830 on 8 July 2010, a crew member on board the multipurpose ship Cape Darnley was fatally injured following an explosion that occurred while he was attempting to cut the top off a 200 litre steel drum. When the oiler touched an angle grinder's spinning cutting disk onto the top of the drum, the heat generated ignited the vapours inside the drum. Once ignited, the rapid expansion of the vapour/air mixture resulted in the drum exploding.

The ATSB investigation found that an appropriate risk analysis was not undertaken and a hot work permit was not completed for the task.

The investigation also found that the oiler was not aware of the ship's work permit requirements or the risks associated with using an angle grinder to cut the top off a closed drum.

The ATSB acknowledges the safety actions taken by the ship's managers to address the two safety issues identified during the investigation.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 410KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 575KB]


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Safety Issues

Go to MO-2010-005-SI-01 - Go to MO-2010-005-SI-02 -

Dangers associated with use of grinder

The oiler’s actions indicate that he was not aware of the dangers associated with the use of an angle grinder to remove the top of the drum.

Safety issue details
Issue number: MO-2010-005-SI-01
Who it affects: All seafarers
Status: Adequately addressed

Knowledge of ship’s safety management system

The oiler’s actions indicate that he was likely not aware of the ship’s safety management system hot work permit requirements.

Safety issue details
Issue number: MO-2010-005-SI-02
Who it affects: All ship, owners, operators, managers and seafarers
Status: Adequately addressed
General details
Date: 08 July 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0830 (UTC+10)   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): at sea off Vavouto, New Caledonia    
State: International    
Release date: 17 February 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Cape Darnley  
Flag Liberia  
IMO 9231145  
Type of operation General cargo  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Vavouto, New Caledonia  
Destination Brisbane, Qld  
Last update 03 April 2020