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Multitank Ascania

Name
Multitank Ascania
Accident date
19/03/1999
Location
Great Britain
Accident area
Pentland Firth, north of Scotland
Spill area
Offshore
Cause of spill
Fire
Quantity transported
1, 800 tonnes
Nature of pollutant
vinyl acetate monomer
Ship / structure type
Chemical tanker
Built date
1981
Length
102.77 m
Width
14.00 m
Draught
5.45 m
Flag
Cyprius
Owner
C F Ahrenkiel Shipmanagement Ltd, Limassol, Cyprus

On 19 March 1999, a fire started in the machine room of the Cypriot chemical tanker Multitank Ascania. The crew made unsuccessful attempts to extinguish it. The engines were stopped and the carbon dioxide system was activated to try to calm the flames.

The master asked for assistance in the Pentland Firth (north of Scotland) because the vessel was carrying a cargo of 1,800 tonnes of vinyl acetate monomer, a highly flammable liquid. Rescue units were sent on site and all the crew except the master were airlifted off. The master managed to anchor the ship and then he was evacuated.

An exclusion zone within a radius of 5 km was set up and almost 600 local residents were evacuated. The evolution of the fire was monitored using a thermal imaging camera from a helicopter.

The following day, 2 salvage personnel were lowered onto the vessel. They reported that the fire appeared to be out. The fire was thought to have been caused by thermal oil leaking from a pump of the thermal oil system. No pollution was detected.

The salvage master, the vessel’s crew and the representatives of Multitank Ascania’sowners elaborated a procedure for a ship-to-ship transfer of the cargo of vinyl acetate monomer onto a lightering tanker. As it no longer constituted a danger, the vesselwas towed to the coast and moored alongside Lyness Pier. The transhipment was made on 29 March and took 11 hours.

On 30 March, the Multitank Ascania was then taken under tow to Rotterdam for repair.

Sources :

- HELCOM, 2002, HELCOM Response Manual - Volume 2
- Accord de Bonn, 1999, Accidents chimiques en mer : étude de cas, BONN 99/3/6-F
- Marine Accident Investigation Branch, 2000, The merchant shipping – Regulations 1999
- MAIB, 2000, Report of the investigation of the fire on board Multitank Ascania in the Pentland Firth on 19 March 1999
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency, 1999, The “Multitank Ascania” incident

Last update: 17/09/2009

External links

Vinyl acetate monomer, Material Safety Data Sheets