Cruise ships warned over 'dangerous' cylinders after Dunedin port death

Police at Port Chalmers after a cruise ship worker Allan Allarde Navales was killed.
HAMISH McNEILLY/FAIRFAX NZ

Police at Port Chalmers after a cruise ship worker Allan Allarde Navales was killed.

​A worker on the Emerald Princess cruise ship died when a corroded nitrogen cylinder burst while the ship was in Dunedin.

Allan Allarde Navales' death at Port Otago on February 9 has prompted warnings for the cruise industry over corroded cylinders which could pose a "significant danger to seafarers and passengers".

An interim report released by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) on Thursday said a burst nitrogen cylinder caused the father-of-two's death.

Investigators at the scene of the incident that killed Allan Allarde Navales, a father of two.
HAMISH McNEILLY/FAIRFAX NZ

Investigators at the scene of the incident that killed Allan Allarde Navales, a father of two.

On the morning of the incident, some of crew were checking the life boat launching davits, which were each fitted with four high-pressure nitrogen cylinders.

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Navales died when a corroded nitrogen cylinder burst.
HAMISH McNEILLY/FAIRFAX NZ

Navales died when a corroded nitrogen cylinder burst.


The crew noted the pressure of the nitrogen system for lifeboat 24 davit, a small crane used for lowering life boats, had dropped to about 165 bar, which was below the nominal working pressure range of 180-210 bar.

No leaks were detected, and the workers decided to replace the entire manifold as they thought it was highly unlikely the pressurised cylinders had been structurally compromised.

One of the four nitrogen cylinders burst as they tried to repressurise the system, fatally wounding Navales, an engine room fitter who was standing close by.

Cruise ship Emerald Princess berthed in Akaroa Harbour earlier this year.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Cruise ship Emerald Princess berthed in Akaroa Harbour earlier this year.

Remains of the burst cylinder were recovered, along with the other three cylinders from the same frame.

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The top of the burst cylinder was never found, having possibly been ejected into the sea. 

The cylinders were examined by an independent metallurgist expert at TAIC's technical facility, who found the burst cylinder had suffered significant corrosion at the point of failure.

Other cylinders on the ship were found to have similar corrosion-related damage.

The cylinders were inspected annually by the manufacturer's authorised representative. They were found to be in satisfactory working condition at the last inspection, two weeks before the fatal accident.

TAIC's report said it was concerned there might be other pressure vessels that "could pose a significant danger to seafarers and passengers".

On April 10,  it recommended the manufacturer urgently contact all known ship owners who had the same or similar emergency launching and recovery systems installed on their vessels.

They were advised to have the systems inspected immediately by a competent person, and "any nitrogen cylinders deemed unfit due to corrosion should be removed for further assessment".

Cruise Lines International Association, which represents the majority of cruise ships, said it was reviewing the recommendations.

 - Stuff

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