Malta – Marine Safety Investigation into the Crew fatality and serious injuries on MV BALGARKA during shipyard repairs


( Transport Malta issued the Safety Investigation report on the 28 October 2018 collision of the incident on MV BALGARKA involving Crew fatality and serious injuries during shipyard repairs.

At about 0900 on 28 October 2018, a crew member sustained fatal injuries and another was admitted to hospital with serious injuries, following a fire on board the Maltese registered bulk carrier MV Balgarka, during repairs in dry-dock. At the time of the accident, both crew members were inside the fore peak tank and hot work was being carried out on the lower platform. Shortly after resuming work, a fire erupted inside the space. One of the fitters managed to escape from the space, albeit with serious burn injuries. The second crew member on the lower platform was unable to escape and was later found at the bottom of the space.

The safety investigation considered two scenarios of fire ignition; either oxygen coming in direct contact with oil and grease, or oxygen enrichment inside the forepeak tank on the face plates of the forepeak bottom girders (platform no. 5).

Click below to download the Malta Marine Safety interim Investigation report

Source: Transport Malta

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  1. The report has missed a number of vital points.

    1. The failure to provide adequate ventilation has been passed over too casually. This is a failure of the operators to provide their shio with adequate ventilation, especially when hot work was to take place that woulkd generate fumes in an enclosed space. The workers should not have been permitted to commence work until this was provided and ventilation was taking place.

    2. There is no mention of the fact that EBA sets were worn.It could have been that fitter No 1 was overcome by fumes before being burnt. An emergency breathing set could have allowed him to escape.Such sets are essential for operators in all enclosed spaces and the failure to wear these is a fault of the ship.

    3. It is mentioned that the Chief Officer took the reading for gas/oxygen. This is correct however all personnel working in these spaces should be wearing individual oxygen meters. These could have given the fitters warning of the change of atmosphere that was taking place as work progressed.

    4.Work was commenced the next day after the Chief Officer again had made the checks. The first days work permit had expired at the end of work at 1700. The entry the next day should have been treated as a completely new entry into the enclosed space and a full check list should again have been required with all the checks in place.

    5. No mention is made of any standby party or rescue equipment being in place. For an entry being made in such a difficult place and using burning equiment this should have been mandatory.

    For these rreasons I cannot agree with the reports assessment regarding the adequate safety requirements of the company and believe that serious errors were made both by the operators in their SMS requirements and the ship in following the basis enclosed space entry requirements.

    Captain Michael Lloyd, RD**, MNM, CMMar, FNI.


    • Hi James,
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