The Malta Merchant Shipping Directorate, has issued an Information Notice in relation to the potential safety hazards associated with container fires, following the conclusion of the Marine Safety Investigation Report in relation to the container fire over the Malta Flagged vessel, MV X-Press Godavari, while anchored at offshore anchorage in India.
The X-Press Godavari was a 2008 built container vessel of 8'971GT with a length of 154.85m. It's minimum safe manning certificate required a crew of 13 and at the time of occurrence, there were 15 crew members onboard. On the 28th September 2020, the chief officer noted a container on deck emitting smoke during his anchor watch and following further investigations, the general alarm was raised for all crew to proceed and follow the vessel's fire contingency plan. The cargo manifest of the container, indicated that lithium-ion batteries, having a gross weight of 7.4tons, were stowed inside the 40-foot container, amongst other related items.
The conclusions of the report indicate that the probable cause of the fire was a short circuit of a lithium-ion battery, due to possible high temperatures within the container.
In view of this, the Shipping Directorate has recommended owners of container vessels, constructed before 01st January 2016, designed to carry containers on or above the weather deck, to also provide water mist lances onboard. New vessels constructed after this date have a mandatory requirement, as per SOLAS Chapter II-2, Regulation 10.7.3 as amended, to carry such equipment.
A water mist lance consists of a tube with a nozzle capable of penetrating a container wall and producing a water mist inside the container when connected to the fire main. This equipment can easily be carried, mounted, operated by a single person and on various occasions has shown to offer fast firefighting response time.
The full investigation report, can be access through this link.
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