Ultimate cause of explosion on Manhattan Bridge may never fully be known

The exact cause of an explosion which killed a crew member of container vessel Manhattan Bridge (IMO 9689615) may never be known, an inquest has been told.

Celso Banas died on the vessel as it docked at Felixstowe, Suffolk, on January 19th 2017, en route to Hamburg. An inquest jury in Ipswich reached a narrative conclusion on February 6th 2019, but could not pinpoint why or how unburned fuel had entered a boiler furnace, causing the blast. The burner manufacturer and ship owner both said that they had changed their safety processes since the incident.

Suffolk coroner Nigel Parsley said that, had they not already made changes, he would have ordered them so to do under his powers as coroner. The jury took two hours to reach a conclusion on the third day of the inquest, concluding that Mr Banas died from injuries received following an explosion in an auxiliary boiler. The actual cause of the explosion could not be ascertained from the available evidence. The inquest had heard from two engineering experts, who agreed that unburned fuel had got into boiler furnace because of poor combustion.

One said that insufficient burning was because of a waxy build-up of oil which stopped the fuel flowing freely, while the other said that the cause was oil pressure falling without being detected.

K Line Shipping Europe, the operator of the ship, has since offered staff more training. It has also recalibrated oil pressure alarms to make them more sensitive. Burner manufacturer Sunflame has changed its display units and alarm reset procedures.

2015-built, Japan-flagged, 152,297 gt Manhattan Bridge is owned by East River Shipping GK care of manager K Line of Tokyo, Japan. ISM manager is K Line Ship Management Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is entered with Japan Club (Tokyo Office in Charge) on behalf of East River Shipping GK.

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