Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Ship death sailor 'needed permit'

Saga Rose in Southampton
Joselito Zordilla died on the Saga Rose in Southampton in June 2008

A crewman who suffocated in a cruise ship's ballast tank did not have the necessary hazard permit, a report says.

Filipino Joselito Zordilla, 43, died testing water on the Saga Rose as it docked at Southampton on 11 June 2008.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch report said he was told to do the tests on the basis the ballast tank was full, and its water accessible from outside.

But the tank was empty and he entered it despite being aware of the risks of low oxygen and not having a permit.

Paul Green, from the over-50s holiday company Saga which runs the vessel, told BBC News that the death of Mr Zordilla, a second boatswain, was "a tragic accident".

The MAIB have been comprehensive and thorough
Paul Green, Saga
The report said that because of the assumption that the tank was full of water, "a permit to work was not deemed to be necessary".

"However, the tank contained only a small amount of water and the second boatswain entered it despite being aware of, and practised in, the vessel's procedures for entering enclosed spaces.

"The atmosphere inside the tank contained insufficient oxygen to sustain human life due to the corrosion of the tank's steel structure."

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said Mr Zordilla's was the sixth death in an enclosed space it had investigated since September 2007.

'Proper procedures'

In view of this, the MAIB issued a safety bulletin in July 2008 setting out recommendations to regulators and the shipping industry "aimed at improving the identification of potentially dangerous spaces".

The Saga Rose, which is being replaced later this year, began its final world cruise with the company on Monday night.

Mr Green added that the MAIB report was "very thorough" and that Saga was "happy for them to take the lead".

He said crew members had been reminded of the proper procedures on board Saga's fleet of cruise ships.

"It was a tragic accident, which the MAIB accept," he said.

"As ever, the MAIB have been comprehensive and thorough."

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