Safety warning regarding entry to confined spaces after loss of 3 lives

This document highlights the dangers of entering confined or enclosed spaces after 3 fatalities on general cargo vessel Suntis.

Safety Bulletin 3/2014

Safety Bulletin3-2014.pdf (1,166.41 kb)



At about 0645 on 26 May 2014, while the timber cargo on board the German registered general cargo vessel Suntis was being discharged at Goole Docks, England, three crew members entered a cargo hold access compartment. Another crewman saw one of his colleagues collapse in the compartment and raised the alarm. A frantic rescue operation ensued. During the recovery of the three unconscious crewmen, safety equipment was used incorrectly and inappropriately. The three crewmen did not survive.

The investigation found that the oxygen levels within the compartment had been depleted, probably by the timber cargo, with levels of 5% - 6% recorded at the compartment deck.

In summary:

  • Three crew collapsed and died after entering an oxygen deficient compartment on board the vessel.
  • It is likely that the second and third crew members entered the space to attempt to rescue their colleagues(s).
  • The vessel had no rescue plan or appropriate rescue equipment in place.
  • It is fortunate that more lives were not lost during the disorganised rescue attempt.

A full investigation report has been produced by the German Maritime Casualty Investigation and can be downloaded from their website.

Published 23 January 2015