Crew responded correctly to Ulsan blast

A fire blazes on a cargo ship Stolt Groenland in Ulsan, a port city in southeastern South Korea, on 28 September 2019, following an explosion. Credit: Yonhap/Yonhap News Agency/PA Images

Norwegian chemical tanker specialist Odfjell said that the crew on Bow Dalian responded correctly when Stolt Groenland exploded when both chemical tankers were engaged in ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of cargoes while anchored at South Korea’s Ulsan Port on 28 September 2019.

Witnesses said that a large fireball appeared from the explosion, sending thick smoke billowing into the air.

The incident happened close to 1100 h local time, and local firefighters took nearly 12 hours to extinguish the flames.

Odfjell said, “The crew reacted in a timely and correct manner. Sprinkler and foam were released according to our procedures before the vessel was evacuated. The professional reaction has clearly mitigated the potential consequences to the crew and the vessel.”

Odfjell added that the blast happened before the STS transfer began.

All 25 crew members on the Cayman Islands-flagged 2009-built 43,478 dwt Stolt Groenland – which is part of the fleet of another Norwegian group, Stolt-Nielsen – and the 21 crew members on the Singapore-flagged 2012-built 9,118 dwt Bow Dalian were evacuated, although in total, 12 seafarers and 6 rescue personnel were treated for injuries. The crew members included Russians and Filipinos.

While the Korea Coast Guard said that the cause of the blast is being investigated, Russia’s vice-consul in Busan, Evgeny Evdokimov, was quoted by the Russian news agency Tass as saying that something in the cargo may have caused the explosion.

Odfjell said, “Bow Dalian is now safely moored at a lay-by berth in Ulsan. There is no fire on board and representatives of Odfjell are preparing to board the vessel and assess the situation. The extent of the damages will be established during the forthcoming days.”

Stolt-Nielsen said that its senior officers from Stolt Groenland continue to support onsite emergency responders, and the Stolt Tankers emergency response team continues to liaise with local authorities.