3 Crew Dead, – Accidental Deaths, Monarch Of The Seas Crew, September 2, 2005, Time of Death 9:00.
Date: September 2, 2005
Cause: Sewer Gas Leak
Crew: Boris Dimitrov – Bulgaria
Radomilja Frane – Croatia
Willie Tirol – Philippines
Location: Los Angeles, Ca
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
Ship: The Monarch of the Seas
On September 2, 2005 at approximately 0900 two foreign crew members from the Bahamas flagged C/S MONARCH OF THE SEAS were performing maintenance on a pulper (food waste) pipeline while the vessel was at berth 93 Los Angeles Harbor.
The pulper line ran through a permanent ballast tank (ship tank ID # DC7017) that ran parallel with the starboard side shaft tunnel. The tank was formerly Dry Tank #11 and was converted and approved by class to a permanent ballast tank in May of 2003. The pulper line was suspected of being holed within the tank.
The purpose of the maintenance was to re-route the pulper line around the ballast tank. A new section of pipe was fabricated to re-route the line. While disconnecting the existing flanges outside the tank to fit the new pipe the crew members were exposed to lethal doses of Hydrogen Sulfide Gas (H2S). The significant causal factor leading to the deaths was the lack of awareness on the part of the crew members that H2S was present and had built up to lethal levels within the tank.
An investigation of the tank revealed that the pulper line was holed two places within the tank. The holes in the tank allowed food waste to build up in the tank. As this organic material decayed it produced H2S that remained in the tank. When the crew members broke the flange of the pulper line to fit up the new connection high levels H2S escaped through the holed line incapacitating and killing the two crew members. A third crew member was killed in an attempted rescue of the fallen victims when he was overcome with lethal levels of H2S. The crew member was unaware of the toxic environment within the shaft tunnel.
Twenty five other crew members were exposed to varying levels of toxic gas during the response. Most were treated by local hospitals and released back to the ship the same day, except for the First Engineer, who was kept overnight and treated for a collapsed lung. The response/rescue of the initial crew members was hampered by the lack of awareness for a toxic environment within the shaft tunnel, lack of training in response to a hazard gas leak and the failure to immediately secure the area once a toxic gas leak was suspected. All affected crew members were foreign citizens.
II. INCIDENT SUMMARY
Level of Investigation: Informal
IMO Classification: Very Serious Incident
USCG Classification: Significant Marine Casualty
Was This a Serious Marine Incident? Yes
Was a Marine Board Convened by Commandant? No
Personal Casualty Summary Vessel(s) Status Summary
Total Missing: 0
Total Dead: 3
Total Injured: 1
At Risk, Not Injured: 17
Total Not at Risk: 2