Smouldering cargo of wheat pellets on general cargo vessel Sea Charente

Location: 2.5nm South of Shoreham, East Sussex, England

Completed PE Summary: Sea Charente

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Vessel name:   Sea Charente        
Registered owner:   Charente Shipping B.V.   Manager(s):   Amasus Shipping B.V.
Port of registry:   Lemmer        
Flag:   Netherlands        
Type:   General Cargo        
Built:   1996 in Bergum, Netherlands   Classification society:   Bureau Veritas
Construction:   Steel        
Length overall:   82.34m   Gross tonnage:   1638
Date & Time:   02/10/09, 1400 UTC+1        
Location of incident:   2.5nm South of Shoreham, East Sussex        
Incident Type:   Hazardous incident        
Persons on board:   5        
Injuries:   None        
Damage / Pollution:   Minor smouldering damage to cargo of wheat pellets        


On 1 October 2009 Sea Charente loaded 1900 tonnes of animal feed wheat pellets in Ghent, Belgium. During loading the 300 watt hold lights, which were an unapproved modification carried out under the vessel’s previous ownership, were switched on.

While on passage to Glasgow, smoke was seen to escape from the cargo hold’s starboard after ventilation terminal. Soon afterwards the hot hold lights were found to be still switched on. A 4-man Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was subsequently transferred by helicopter to the vessel to assess and monitor the incident. The hold and adjacent compartment temperatures were found to be normal and the vessel made her own way into Southampton. Part of the cargo was removed while a fire-fighting team from the Hampshire Fire Rescue Service was in attendance. A small amount of smouldering cargo was doused down, which was found in the vicinity of the hold’s starboard after halogen light, which was fitted inside the lower section of the ventilation trunking.

Actions taken

The vessel’s technical manager has been advised to:

  • Seek advice regarding the suitability of the hold lighting system to ensure it complies with the classification society’s rules.
  • Introduce suitable checks to ensure that the approved hold lighting system is switched off when the hold is unattended.

The technical manager has:

  • Instructed its fleet to remove all hold lights which were not installed during build.

Published: November 2009

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