Our LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) carrier recently had a problem at a loading terminal. There was the normal discussion between the Loadmaster and the Chief Officer regarding safety matters etc. On completion of the Cold Emergency Shut Down [ESD] test the Loadmaster asked if the vessel was ready to commence loading. The Chief Officer explained that prior to loading the ship’s lines had to be cooled to -110°C. At that time the warmest part of the system was at -28°C and therefore not adequately cooled.
A short time later the Loadmaster asked if they were ready to load but still the lines were not cooled to the correct temperature. The Loadmaster left and returned within minutes and advised the Chief Officer that loading had commenced at a rate of 1000m³/hr. At this time the vessel was not lined up for Loading.
The terminal was given a Letter of Protest.
We eventually received this statement:
“The procedure for loading of LNG ships at our terminal has not been changed. But during the cool down operation and start of loading of your good vessel, the terminal procedure for loading of LNG ships was not followed by the loadmaster. This issue has been discussed with all loadmasters at the terminal and correction done for the future.”
I can’t help thinking that if one of our ships had started discharging into a terminal that had not been lined up, a little more may have been made of it, with demands for dismissal, retraining of staff, changes in staff selection policy, Risk Assessment methodology, corrective and preventive actions in great detail, etc. – and an abject apology.
We consulted the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators in relation to this report. They commented that it appears that the requirements of the Ship/Shore Safety Check-List, as specified in the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT), had not been met.
The incident highlights the importance of meticulous attention to communication between ship and shore, with proper dialogue on each item of the check list.