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:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel name Sea Charente
Registered Owner Charente Shipping B.V.
Ship Manager 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 02/10/2009, 1400 (UTC+1)
Location of Incident Off Shoreham
Incident Type Hazardous incident
Persons Onboard 5
Injuries/Fatalities 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

Published 23 January 2015