NEAR MISS of an MAJOR OIL SPILL :
Rakesh Mahobia, 3/E
Ship was a bulk carrier and bound to US and was nearing US port.All the compliments are in the verge of finishing the contract and expected to sign off after US visit.While taking rounds before taking over the watch from the 4/E, around 2345 hrs, 3/E smelled HO vapour.
He took rounds and could not find anything wrong in the ER. When he came to the control room, he found the FO transfer pump was ON and was on manual mode. While on the rounds, he found the settling tank was almost full. He doubted and asked 4/E, as to when he started the pump. 4/E had forgotten to change the mode to auto mode, and the pump was running.
High level alarm did not function and there was no indication. 3/E stopped the transfer pump and told 4/E to sound the overflow tanks and he went on deck. To his surprise, he found oil had come on to the deck from the vent pipe of the over flow tank and the aft side of the deck was full of oil.
Luckily oil had not slipped into sea as the scuppers were in place.Emergency alarm was sounded, C/E and Master were informed, the oil spill contingency plan was followed and the oil was transferred to the empty tank. The entire ship cooperated and the deck was cleaned before arrival port. Ship escaped a major oil pollution damage and port state action.The compliments signed off from the vessel in the next port.
Lesson learnt :
watch keeping is imperative and when FO transfer is taking place, the levels of the tanks to be checked frequently.