Boiler Explosion Kills Engineer on Product Tanker off Italy

product tanker explosion
An explosion aboard the 2010-built tanker milled the second engineer (Besiktas)

Published Jan 9, 2024 2:51 PM by The Maritime Executive


An engineer working aboard a Turkish-managed product tanker was killed on Monday, January 8, in an engine room explosion. The vessel, the MT Torc, was underway at the time in the Mediterranean and the shipping company is promising an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion.

Besiktas Shipping based in Istanbul reports there was a boiler explosion in the engine room of the Torc (13,200 dwt), while the tanker which is registered in Malta was sailing to Italy. They report that the second engineer, Mehmet Altas of Turkey, was severely injured in the explosion. He passed away shortly after the incident before medical help could reach the vessel.

The Italian Port Authorities and Coast Guard, Ankara MRCC, and Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were all contacted Besiktas reports. The ship was working with the authorities to arrange for an immediate medical evacuation of the injured crewmember. The Italian authorities however canceled the helicopter evacuation when they were informed that the engineer had succumbed to his injuries.

The product tanker was built in 2010 and it was acquired in 2020 coming under the management of Besiktas and operating in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. She is 419 feet (128 meters) in length with 14 tanks.

Records show the vessel had just completed what RINA terms an “expanded inspection” at the end of December while the vessel was in Greece. The data shows that no issues were identified and the vessel was not cited for any deficiencies. She departed Greece days later on January 2 and made a brief stop at the Malta anchorage on January 5.

The authorities initially instructed the vessel after the explosion to continue on her course to Genoa where she was expected to arrive on January 11. Her AIS signal however now shows that she is inbound to Naples where she will arrive this evening.

Besiktas said it is deeply saddened by the loss of its colleague and is working with the authorities to determine the cause of the explosion. In addition, after the investigation by the Italian Authorities, the company reports it has arranged an investigation to be performed by an international expert organization for the incident analysis.

The shipping company shows on its website that it has over 60 years experience managing vessels. Its current fleet is shown as 34 ships, mostly product tankers, as well as two each bulk carriers and crude oil tankers. They also have a containership and an ethylene carrier under management. The company works with major charterers in the crude oil, product, chemical, gas, container, and dry bulk shipping segments.