10 March 2004 20:20 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Odfjell Seachem, owner of the chemical tanker Bow Mariner which exploded off the US east coast last month with the loss of 21 lives, said Wednesday it has issued a circular to all of its vessels highlighting safety and operational procedures.
The Bergen-headquartered group owns or operates a fleet of 89 vessels, making it the world's second largest chemical tanker company.
Although the exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined, Odfjell said in a statement that it had also ordered a thorough independent inspection of the Bow Mariner's two sisterships before they start new voyages with cargo.
A spokesman for Odfjell Seachem and the Bow Mariner's manager, Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises, told CNI tonight that he was unable to disclose any details of the circular or comment on whether it had been updated or amended in light of the ship's catastrophic loss.
The spokesman said a copy of the circular had been requested by the US Coast Guard, which is investigating the loss of the 22-year-old, Singapore-flag tanker at the request of the Singapore maritime authorities.
"I can't give any details of the circular until it has been given to the Coast Guard on Friday," he said.
The 39 821 deadweight tonne (dwt) Bow Mariner, sank about 50 miles off Norfolk, Virginia, while carrying a cargo of 11 570 tonne of industrial alcohol bound from Saudi Arabia to Texas City near Houston, Texas. It had recently discharged some 20 000 tonne of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) at Linden, New Jersey, and some tanks containing MTBE residues were being washed and vented when the Singapore-flag tanker exploded.
In its statement today, Odfjell Seachem confirmed that four of the six surviving crew members had exercised their right to remain silent over the incident. Odfjell added, however, that they had retained their own attorneys "to assist them to find a way to provide full information to the Coast Guard".
Odfjell and Ceres stressed that they were in the process of providing the Coast Guard with all of the information it has requested.
Meanwhile, attempts to send down a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to provide a more detailed survey of the Bow Mariner and determine if its remaining cargo and bunker fuel can be recovered and any missing bodies reclaimed was called off due to bad weather. Another attempt is planned on Saturday, weather permitting.
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