LABUAN SHIP FIRE: Review standard operating procedure
THE MT Bunga Alpinia ship explosion in Labuan, which is claimed to have been caused by lightning, is a rare but possible incident. The last major incident occurred in Singapore harbour in 1975 when the Greek tanker Kriti Sun exploded after being struck by lightning.
Modern tanker ships are made of thick metal plates, which are unlikely to be punctured by lightning bolts. Furthermore, lightning bolts usually strike the upper parts of the ship and not the tanks.
Fires and explosions can only occur if one or more grounding components of the ship and the fuel loading pipes have not been connected properly during the loading of fuel. If this happens, a lightning strike could ignite a spark and result in a fire or explosion.
The ship owner and operator need to review their standard operating procedures to see whether any critical phase that could have led to the incident had been overlooked.
H.Z.A., Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur