Seychelles’ Maritime Accident Investigation Board (MAIB)and its Spanish counterpart will carry out an investigation into an ammonia leak on a Spanish-flagged tuna fishing vessel.
The incident, which took place on Wednesday, June 15, caused the death of two Spanish crew members.
Through the investigation, authorities are seeking to establish the factors that contributed to this incident and what needs to be changed or done differently to avoid future incidents.
The vessel, Albacora Cuatro, is 88 metres long and 16 metres wide and belongs to the Compañía Europea de Tunidos company. At the time of the incident, the vessel was anchored close to Port Victoria and it had a crew of 31 people of six different nationalities on board as well as one Seychellois.
In an interview with the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) on Thursday, the Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation, Port, and Marine, Alan Renaud, said that this is the first time that Seychelles is working with the Standing Commission for Maritime Accident and Incident Investigations, an agency of the Spanish government. The first meeting was scheduled for last Friday.
“We want a top-class report and it will be published for everyone to learn from it to find out what happened that night, what were the factors that caused this incident, and what we can change so that we do not see it again, at least in that way,” said Renaud.
He added that “though it is rare, these incidents happen all over the world, but we are going to find out what happened and see what we can do to improve. As it is always about improving safety, and I am very happy to see that we are working with the Spanish authorities.”
According to an article on the Atuna website, the “initial examination showed that an ammonia leak had caused (an) eruption.” The same article stated that relevant authorities from both countries are working on repatriating the bodies of the deceased chief engineer and second officer. The two casualties of the incident were Spanish nationals from the Ribeira, located in the northwest of Spain.
Ammonia is a refrigerant used to freeze the brine solution within the fish wells onboard tuna vessels. It is a toxic gas and exposure to it can cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries, including ammonia burns on the eyes and lungs, asthma, blindness, and other pulmonary conditions. It is also flammable and can cause explosions when exposed to high heat.