Duty engineer was transferring HFO from a storage tank to the FO settling tank. The system was fitted with an auto start/stop transfer pump and the settling tank had a high-level alarm.
The duty engineer started the oil transfer, with the fuel oil transfer pump on Manual.
The watch was handed over to and the duty engineer left the Engine room without informing that the FO transfer pump was running.
After a while, there was a minor oil spill on deck through the Fuel overflow tank air-vent.

On investigation, it was found out that:

  • The HFO settling tank HL alarm was not working. Known to the staff on board.
  • The transfer pump was run on manual and the transfer was not monitored. The transfer pump auto start /stop was operational.
  • As the transfer pump was on manual and the HL alarm not working, the settling tank got filled and overflowed into the Overflow tank. The Overflow tank got filled up and the oil came on the main deck through the air vent. The overflow tank was not fitted with a HL alarm.
  • Oil spilled on deck but was well contained by the crew.


  • With the knowledge of the settling tank High-level alarm not working, the transfer pump was run on manual. The pump auto start/stop was operational.
  • The watchkeeper left the engine room without proper handover.
  • Additionally there was no HL alarm fitted on the Overflow tank.

This incident created a potential situation of an oil spill at sea despite it is easily avoidable with proper watchkeeping maintained and HLA timely checked and repaired.

Proposed corrective actions:

  • HL alarm should be installed in the FO overflow tank.
  • All FO/DO tank high-level alarms to be checked regularly. Testing procedures to be clearly described and followed on board.
  • Any breakdown of the HL alarm system must be promptly attended.
  • Transfer pump must not be run in manual mode during watch change over. The pump should be started and stopped by a single watchkeeper.
  • A placard near the FO transfer pump starter switch stating 'Pump In Manual mode' must be put up in case the pump is run in Manual mode.
  • Any items of importance must be properly handed over by the watch-keeping officer.
  • The FO transfer in manual mode should be done during daylight hours.

posted 23 Mar '18, 19:07

March 23, 2018, 7:07 p.m.
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edited 23 Mar '18, 19:11

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