Wednesday, January 04, 2006
An explosion that destroyed a tanker and killed 21 seamen two years ago was caused by the Captain's "stunningly" unsafe order to his crew to open vapor-filled cargo tanks for cleaning, the Coast Guard said in a report.
Bow MarinerOpening the hatches on 22 empty tanks caused the highly flammable vapors to escape onto the deck, where the crew of the Bow Mariner was working, according to the report. A spark ignited the mixture of air and vapors from a gasoline additive, the investigators said. The investigation also found that Capt. Efstratios Kavouras abandoned ship without sending a distress call or trying to save his crew, contributing to the high death toll. The 570-foot Bow Mariner, laden with more than 3.4 million gallons of ethanol, fuel oil and diesel oil, sank about 50 miles off the Virginia coast on Feb. 28, 2004. Bow Mariner SinkingTwenty-one of the 27 crew members died. Kavouras was among the 18 whose bodies were never found. Investigators could not determine what sparked the explosion but said Kavouras' order was a "breach of normal safe practices for a tank ship and defies explanation or excuse." Faulty electrical wiring could not be ruled out. Bow Mariner Sunk