Methane Gas Leak Led to Deadly Tamar Explosion

Based on a preliminary analysis, an explosion aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Tamar in late April was caused by a methane gas leak.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime Administrator informed that the likely immediate cause of the explosion and fire was methane gas leaking from the no. 1 cargo hold and entering the windlass control room and adjacent spaces.

Additionally, the ignition source of the explosion could have been an electric charge when a light or another electrical component was energized or some other ignition source. It was noted that the lighting, wiring, and electrical fittings were not explosion proof.

Two seafarers died and two others were severely burned following the explosion and fire in the boatswain’s store room aboard the bulker on April 24. At the time of the incident, the 623-foot ship was some 1,300 miles off the coast of Cape Cod.

The Administrator recommended that ship owners, ship management, and Masters review the bulker’s cargo arrangements and as necessary employ appropriate risk assessment and risk mitigation measures through their Safety Management Systems.

The investigation related to the 56,600 dwt ship’s explosion is ongoing, RMI said.