EXPLOSION AND FIRE ON BOARD THE SS CHEVRON HAWAII WITH DAMAGES TO BARGES AND TO THE DEER PARK SHEEL OIL COMPANY TERMINAL, HOUSTON SHIP CHANNEL, SEPTEMBER 1, 1979. MARINE ACCIDENT REPORT
At 1412 c.d.t., on September 1, 1979, while discharging cargo at the Deer Park Shell Oil Company terminal on the Houston ship channel, the American tankship SS CHEVRON HAWAII exploded, burned, and sank after it was struck by lightning. A hull fragment from the exploding vessel penetrated a petroleum product tank at the terminal and caused the tank to explode and the contents to burn. The vessel fire spread into a barge slip where four barges were discharging cargo; all four caught fire, three of which exploded and sank. One crewmember and 2 radar repairmen aboard the vessel were killed, and 13 persons were injured. Damage to the CHEVRON HAWAII was estimated at $50,000,000. Damages to the terminal, barges, and other vessels, and accident-related claims exceeded $27,000,000. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the ignition by lightning of accumulated flammable cargo vapors on the deck of the CHEVRON HAWAII and the propagation of the resulting fire into a cargo tank through an open or improperly secured tank opening cover plate or ullage opening. The explosion of the Shell Oil Company terminal petroleum tank on shore was caused by ignition of the contained ethyl alcohol when a heated projectile from the exploding vessel ruptured its roof and fell into the tank. The barge fires and explosions were caused when the waterborne cargo fire from the vessel spread into the barge slip and ignited the barge cargoes. Contributing to the accident was the failure to remove the barges from the slip with available tugs or towboats, and the failure to properly maintain the barges' cargo tank closures. Contributing to the loss of life was the lack of a safe gangway or brow between the vessel's crew accommodations and the cargo terminal or facility.
National Transportation Safety BoardBureau of Accident Investigation, 800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC United States 20594
- Publication Date: 1980-9-29
- Pagination: 38 p.
- TRT Terms: Barges; Casualties; Crash causes; Explosions; Fatalities; Fires; Marine terminals; Petroleum terminals; Ships; Tankers; Tanks (Containers)
- Identifier Terms: Chevron Hawaii (Ship)
- Uncontrolled Terms: Ship fires
- Old TRIS Terms: Barge terminals; Cargo tanks; Casualty data; Explosive vapor ignition; Oil terminals; Personnel casualties; Tanker explosions; Vapor cloud explosions
- Subject Areas: Marine Transportation; Safety and Human Factors; Vehicles and Equipment;
- Accession Number: 00323321
- Record Type: Publication
- Report/Paper Numbers: NTSB-MAR-80-18
- Files: TRIS
- Created Date: Feb 6 1981 12:00AM