Panama Canal issues tanker cooling order

Apr 18 2019

Effective from the beginning of April, and until further notice, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) will require transiting crude oil tankers, product carriers, and chemical tankers carrying cargoes with flash points of less than 18 deg C, to cool their main decks.

This can be accomplished by using water provided by on-deck water sprinkler systems, or any other means available.


This is required in order to prevent automatic activation of their pressure relief valves during transit, the ACP explained. The cooling of the main deck shall be performed between 1000 and 1600 hours while the vessel is underway at Gatun Lake or Gaillard Cut, or at anchor in Canal waters.


However, this procedure should be stopped while the vessel is transiting through the locks or is in the vicinity of the locks, and when Canal deckhands are on board.


If this fails to prevent automatic activation of pressure relief valves, it may be necessary to reduce the pressure by manually opening pressure relief valves. This shall be undertaken only after the Master has ascertained the following:


*The situation has been reported to the ACP’s Canal Port Captain on duty through the pilot on board or to the Canal Signal Stations at Flamenco or Cristobal when there is no pilot on board.

*All necessary actions have been implemented to prevent exposing ACP personnel to vapours.

*Shipboard and nearby ignition sources have been controlled.


Compliance with the measures described above will enhance the safety of Canal operations, as well as Canal customers, and reduce or eliminate possible disruptions in transit scheduling, the ACP explained.


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