Loose garbage on deck is always a hazard, for fires but also for safety and cleanliness, warns The Nautical Institute. In a recent Mars Report, the Institute describes how soot blowing on board a ship ignited garbage on the poop deck.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

A vessel had just left dry dock and was underway to another port for bunkering. In the late afternoon, a fire broke out on the poop deck in the area used for garbage collection. Within minutes the fire party mustered and was able to extinguish the fire without further incident.

The company investigation found that a quantity of combustible material, such as craft papers and plastic covers used to protect the ship’s alleyways while in dry dock, had been left on deck and not secured in closed containers. A soot-blowing procedure was undertaken while underway, and it is probable that hot embers ignited the loose garbage.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

In addition to the warning issued (as mentioned above), The Nautical Institute advises that:

  • Certain activities, such as dry dock, can leave inordinate amounts of waste on board. Proper planning can alleviate this hazard.
  • Soot blowing can introduce fire hazards on deck and company procedures should take this into account.

Also read: These measures should be taken on board when soot blowing

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202113, that are part of Report Number 340. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s March 2021 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.

Picture (top) by Roberto Venturini.