Preliminary report release 31 May 2013


The information contained in this preliminary report is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that it is possible that new evidence may become available that alters the circumstances as depicted in the report.

What happened

On 20 March 2013, an engineer on board the bulk carrier Nireas was fatally injured after being struck by flying debris when the observation window of a main air receiver drainage pot exploded. At the time of the explosion, the ship was at anchor off Gladstone, Queensland, and the engineer was carrying out the routine task of draining water from the pressurised air receiver.

What the ATSB found so far

Initial analysis of the accident indicates that the observation window glass of the drainage pot exploded when it was exposed to the air receiver pressure. However, all of the factors which contributed to the failure of the glass have not yet been established.

What's been done as a result

All six similar drainage pot observation window glasses on board Nireas have been removed pending verification of the drainage arrangement design to the satisfaction of Lloyd’s Register, the ship’s classification society.

The ATSB has contacted Nireas’ managers, the ship builder, Lloyd’s Register, the flag state (Liberia) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. They were all informed of the accident and asked that the owners and operators of any ships fitted with similar systems be advised of this accident and that appropriate safety action should be taken by them to prevent similar accidents on board their ships.

Nireas’ managers have advised the ATSB that they have also removed the drainage pot observation window glasses from the only other ship managed by them that is fitted with similar drainage arrangements.

The ship builder has advised the ATSB that it has contacted all owners of ships in which it had fitted this design of drain system informing them of the accident and requesting that all observation glasses be removed and for the pots to remain unobstructed.

Investigation direction

The investigation is ongoing and it will focus on determining why the observation glass failed, whether the drainage pot was fit for purpose and whether there were any underlying issues in relation to the design, construction, testing, or certification of the drainage pot.