Release Final Report of the Occurrence Investigation of General Cargo Vessel LI FUNG
On 22 December, 2019, a Sierra Leone registered general cargo vessel LI FUNG, owned by Lin Fung Shipping (HK) Limited, carrying 15 crew members and one captain, was loaded with cargo and departed the Kaohsiung Port, sailing toward the Busan Port in South Korea. On 25 December, during the sailing, sea water entered the third ballast tank, causing the vessel to gradually tilt toward the starboard side. After the Captain contacted the ship owner, he decided to the anchorage of the Keelung Port and anchored the vessel. The next morning, shore technicians boarded the vessel and investigated, with their initial examination concluding that the leakage was the result of a butterfly valve malfunction in the piping system of the third ballast tank. In the evening of 26 December, the meteorological conditions turned severely in the anchorage of Keelung. The vessel swayed severely and listed toward the starboard side at approximately 20°. The Captain thus applied for emergency permission to enter the Keelung Port. At 0700 on 27 December, the LI FUNG entered the Keelung Port and moored at Pier West 24. After port state control inspectors of the Keelung Port boarded and assessed the LI FUNG, they determined the vessel to be tilting severely and unseaworthy. They also identified malfunctioning of the fire detection system and emergency fire pump. Thus, they ordered the LI FUNG’s classification society to conduct an additional inspection and detention of vessel until its deficiencies improved. No personnel injury or oil pollution in this occurrence.
Pursuant to the Republic of China’s Transportation Occurrences Investigation Act and the International Maritime Organization’s Casualty Investigation Code, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (hereafter referred to as the TTSB), an independent transportation occurrence investigation agency, was responsible for investigating this transportation occurrence. Organizations or agencies been invited to participate in the investigation included the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the Maritime and Port Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, The Craft Union Of Ship Tally Clerks, Lien Hai Terminal & Stevedoring CO., LTD and Oak Shipping Agency CO., LTD. The occurrence investigation report was released after the review and approval of the 32nd Board meeting of the TTSB on November 5th, 2021.
Findings related to Probable Causes:
- After the ballast operation was complete, the LI FUNG crew did not fully turn off the main valve of the piping system, and the butterfly valve of the third ballast tank on the starboard side malfunctioned, resulting in water entering the vessel and the vessel listing to the starboard side right at 5°, from which it could not right itself.
- The LI FUNG crew did not comply with the regulations for loading cargo, leaving gaps on both sides of the bulkhead. Consequently, during sailing, the flexible intermediate bulk containers on the two decks shifted and changed the vessel’s center of gravity. When anchored at the Keelung Port, severe meteorological conditions caused the vessel to sway severely and eventually tilt to the starboard side at 20°.
Findings related to risks:
- The tally and stevedore company did not meet their responsibilities in terms of vessel tallying operations nor comply with code of safe practice for cargo stowage and securing (CSS CODE); instead, gaps were left on both sides of the cargo. Consequently, during sailing, the cargo shifted and altered the vessel’s center of gravity, causing the vessel to tilt and making rebalancing impossible.
- The LI FUNG management company did not provide documents of standard cargo operating procedures under the vessel safety management system. Consequently, the people onboard had no regulations to follow.
- The captain of the LI FUNG was careless in managing the vessel certificates, allowing several certificates to expire.
- The captain of the LI FUNG did not thoroughly supervise cargo stowage storage and securing operations nor did he insist on the professional seaworthiness of the vessel.
- The crew members of the LI FUNG did not properly manage the piping system of the ballast tank, failing to implement the daily measurement operation of this tank.
- The crew members of the LI FUNG responsible for loading cargo goods were negligent and failed to correct the situation in which cargo stowage storage and securing was substandard.
- The new inspection regime system of Taiwan’s port state control cannot effectively prevent risk to foreign national vessels nor eliminate or reduce the hazard caused by substandard vessels. Thus, the inspection system cannot meet the goals of ensuring the safety of people on the ocean and protecting the marine environment.
Transportation Safety Recommendations
To Lien Hai Terminal & Stevedoring CO., LTD
- Based on the essential duties of tally personnel as well as code of safe practice for cargo stowage and securing (CSS CODE), communication management and supervision mechanisms for tallying and loading and discharging operations shall be established.
To Success Wide Shipping CO., LTD
- On the basis of the safety management codes under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, documents related to safety management systems on the vessel must be provided. Crew members’ professional skill training shall be reinforced. Standard regulations shall be strictly implemented, thereby improving the vessel management quality.
- The captain is required to manage the vessel certificates diligently and implement code of safe practice for cargo stowage and securing (CSS CODE) to ensure vessel safety.
To the Maritime and Port Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications
- The historical records of the Tokyo MOU are to be included in the new inspection regime of Taiwan’s port state control of vessel risk for reference purposes, providing real-life case studies that reflect actual vessel risk situations.
- The inspection frequency of the port state control of vessels must be increased to strengthen control procedures and eliminate or reduce the hazard caused by substandard vessels.
Full final report is in Chinese only and available for download at website: https://www.ttsb.gov.tw
Vivi Yang, Secretariat Office