Decaying tanker near Yemeni coast at risk

because the inert gas system is off line now?
have iran tow it into one of their ports?

I don’t know anything about tankers but the reports state that the danger of explosion exists because the ship has no power, therefore there are no inert gases being pumped into the storage tanks to stop the build-up of explosive gases from the stored oil. Apparently the Huthies are denying access to the ship. Any tanker expert comments?

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Typically you don’t need the IG running to “pump up” the tanks, assuming the deck is tight. But after “several years” I can easily see something leaking and letting all of the gas out, thus creating a dangerous atmosphere inside the tank.


Not good and no telling what shape it’s in or what type of product is in the tanks. By now with heat and decay oxygen has been introduced into the tanks and the inert gas has exited. No telling what the atmosphere is like in the tanks. Defiantly a dangerous situation. 8 to 18% O2 in the tanks plus the vapors and then all that is needed is an ignition source and then kaboom.

the gas needs to be ‘’[pumped up’’ now and then … I doubt it’d be any good after a week (prob less) and I sure wouldn’t want to be the guy who has to go restart it all !!

I wonder if offloading to lighters would cause a risk. A spill would cause a lot of damage to the evironment if it started leaking. Why can’t the UN tell the Huthis to stand off so they can assess the situation?

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Yes it would create a risk. As the tank level went down the ullage space is filled with fresh air - 21 percent oxygen. That is why IG systems were invented to begin with, to fill the space with inert gas.

Just the normal temperature swings between day and night and seasonally in that area would lead to the tanks “breathing” which would produce an explosive atmosphere pretty quickly.

On the other hand, it was not all that long ago when we loaded, discharged, and dipped with open hatches. Watching gasoline fumes roll over the side while loading was normal and a lot of ships didn’t blow up. On the other hand, more than a few did in spectacular fashion - the Sansenina was one of them.

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It sounds as if boarding the ship to assess the condition in the tanks would be life threatening. Are there no other options than to wait until it either leaks and sinks or explodes?

I wouldn’t go aboard unless there were very (extreme) stringent conditions and that would only be to IG the tanks and not using ships systems… on second thought… I wouldn’t go aboard.

That is taking things to a silly extreme. Just because the tanks have an explosive atmosphere does not mean that they will explode.

Tankships under 20,000 DWT and without crude oil washing systems do not require an IG system and they are not too dangerous to board.

There are portable IG systems used by salvagers, they have been around for years and pretty much make the subject tanker a non issue as far as inerting is concerned. The sky is not falling.

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Thanks for clearing that up. The sky falling is what CNN is insinuating by proclaiming a “threatening catastrophic explosion” but that doesn’t surprise me.
I questioned the report because it doesn’t seem plausible that more of a concerted international effort would be made to prevent that serious of a potential threat.
Not quite fake news but sensationalist click bait that now passes for news.

I’ve never worked crude carriers (just product tankers), but wouldn’t there also be a concern about pyrophoric reactions in the tanks as they lighter it off without IG?

Quite probably, yes. Who knows what condition the steel in the ullage space and IG piping is. There could be a ton of rust. That is why I believe any salvage operator would bring a portable IG system with the gang.

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The article indicates the Houthis are demanding payment for the oil if it is removed. So far, that is the primary roadblock to oil removal as currently there is an embargo until the Houthis cease hostilities. So far, no dice on that score.