Countryman & McDaniel -  The Logistics - Customs Broker Attorneys

"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"


"M/T Vicuna Explodes"

On The Scene In Port Paranagua, Brazil

Feature Date: January, 2005

Event Date: 15 November 2004

Countryman & McDaniel

 The Air & Ocean Logistics- Customs Broker Attorneys

"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene -- Port Paranagua, Brazil !

 A 2004 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

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"M/T Vicuna Explodes"

On The Scene In Port Paranagua, Brazil

Explosion At Sea


A Ship In Two Pats


15 November 2004

A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

The Time: Morning

The Date: Monday 15 November 2004

The Place: Port Paranagua, Brazil



M/T Vicuna

DATE OF CASUALTY: 16 November 2004


TYPE: Tanker

Former: ex-M/T Jo Cypress

M/T Vicuna


BUILT: 1983

VOYAGE: Paranagua, Brazil / unknown

CARGO: 4000 M/T Methanol

PROLOG TO DISASTER - On Wed.. Nov. 17 2004, The Cargo Letter broadcast the following news story:
The Cargo Letter>>17.500 dwt M/T Vicuna (built 1983. ex-Jo Cypress), with 28 crew, loading 11,000 tons methanol at Port Paranagua, Brazil -- exploded broke in two & sank to bottom -- 4 dead & 24 rescued. Superstructure still visible. From our correspondant Tim Schwabedissen. (Wed. Nov. 17 2004)


"Port Authority said on Nov. 16. Brazil's main grain port of Paranagua resumed shipments after an explosion on a vessel carrying methanol shut down operations and killed at least one crewman. Two tanks on the Vicuna, sailing under a Chilean flag, exploded on Monday night when the vessel was offloading 14,000 tons of methanol at the private terminal operated by Cattalini Terminais Maritimos Ltda. About 5,000 tons of methanol were believed to have been on board at the time of the explosion. Among the 28 crew, most of whom were Chilean, one was killed and three others were missing. Firefighters were searching for the missing." -- Associated Press Nov. 16 2004
In the words of local press observers:

Nov 15th, 2004: First eports have just been received that there was an explosion on board this vessel, killing two crew and resulting in the fracture of the ship's hull. The vessel is believed to be partially sunk. The cause of the explosion is unknown. Initial reports said 6 were missing from the crew of 28 mostly Chilean sailors aboard the ship.

Nov 15th, 2004: A very strong explosion occurred on Cattalini pier during the discharging operation of M/T VICUNA (methanol cargo) at around 1930 of Nov 15th and after one hour the vessel partially sank into the water while alongside at Cattalini pier, Port Paranagua, Brazil.

Two bodies were found floating in the bay by rescuers combing the area for 4 missing sailors. Referring to the two remaining missing crew members, Lieutenant Eduardo Pinheiro of the Rio de Janeiro fire department said "the problem is knowing whether the two gone missing are still aboard the ship or if they're in the water." He said boarding the ship was very dangerous since there could be more explosions. "Fire is still raging in the cargo hold and engine rooms, with lots of smoke coming out."

Nov 16th, 2004: AM have noticed that the midship was broken and sunk. During the explosion a considerable quantity of oil was spilled in the water and authorities have worked hard during all last night to avoid such oil spread in the bay and stop all maneuverings for about 2 hours. For the time being the oil spilled is under control but hard work will continue for undetermined period. A meeting was held last night at port Harbor Master office to start to investigate the accident.

The Bow of M/T VICUNA Sits Alone

Nov 16th, 2004: As far as the news coming up to us, it seems that 4 crew members and the surveyor from Lloyd Registery have disappeared but most of the crew were rescued last night, Dec 15th, but number still unknown, besides some surveyors were on board together with the shipping agents, but so far all of them are under doctor´s care. The pilots, launches, tugboats, firemen & ambulances worked hard to control the big fire, assist the people & avoid further damage.
Nov 17th, 2004: It is well understood from authorities that Cattalini Pier is temporarily closed for evaluation of the pier & accident investigation. Cattalini should not be back to a normal operation during the next 3/4 months but could be longer. All vessels for loading and discharging operations were deviated to the Petrobras pier (Vopak Terminal). Since all operations were temporarily stopped, the Petrobras pier can not receive any vessels for the moment for safety reasons, untill the port authorities give the green light as well as inform parties concerned that the operations can be effected without any restrictions, as for time being any operations are being considered not safe yet.

M/T VICUNA has been circled by protective barriers to contain leaking fuel and fishing has been banned in the bay until further notice. A few dead fish were already seen floating nearby

Nov 18th, 2004: Salvage company SMITH TAK and WIJSMULLER are presently at Paranagua to commence the ship´s rescue, however the companies are preparing the equipments to commence the operation. First step is to take out M/T VICUNA ´s deck from the pier of Cattalini, as after the explosion the ship´s deck was flung to the pier.

The authorities have started the investigation and according to the information received, results of the investigation will take around 10 to12 days, therefore only after this investigation conclude the salvage companies can start their work. A floating crane has been hired to assist on the operation.

The ship´s IFO still leaking in the water and technicians are trying to stop it but upto now no success, it believes that the vsl had on board around 500 to 700 MT of bunker. A daily and often meeting are been held with port authorities, navy, Cattalini Terminal, as well as the insurance company in order to define the best solution.

Some Idea of The Impact

"Shipping operations at Brazil's Paranagua port were disrupted for a third day after a blast onboard a chemical tanker on Monday left two crewmen dead and two others missing.

It may take 30 days for operations at the harbor's Petrobras oil pier and Cattalini soybean terminal to return to normal, Milton Lourenco, a port security official, said in a telephone interview today. "It was a very violent explosion and the cleanup is difficult,'' he said. "The ship has been destroyed and the middle part is stuck on the seafloor.'' Cargill's fertilizer terminal was working normally.

The terminals were damaged after an explosion on the vessel, M/T VICUNA, which was unloading a 11,225 metric tons of methanol. Authorities are investigating the explosion now, including experts from London, Lourenco said." -- Bloomberg Nov. 18 2004

The Vicuna >> What animal has the finest wool on all the earth? The Vicuna is a rare wild animal which sports hair less than half the diameter of the finest sheep's wool. It's wool is not just for show, however. Because it lives at an elevation of between 12,000 and 18,000 feet on the slopes of the Andes Mountains it needs that insulating coat. Up there, near the snow line the days are beautifully sunny but at night the temperatures plummet to many degrees below zero. Other areas of the Andes &endash; especially on the western side &endash; are dry deserts. With such inhospitable conditions it is a wonder that the Vicuna survives at all.

The Vicuna, however, is wonderfully designed for its habitat. The animal has blood that is so loaded with red cells -- like a fuel tanker -- that even at the high altitudes where it lives, the vicuna can run at thirty miles per hour (50 kilometers per hour). The vicuna also has an uncanny ability to survive without water. It has even been referred to as a cameloid because of it's likeness to a camel in it's ability to survive in arid conditions.

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs brokerIt's dangerous out there.


Brazshipping Maritima Ltd.

Brazil Ports

Port of Paranagua

Port of Paranagua

Cattalini Pier

Svitzer Wijsmuller

Methanol as Dangerous Cargo

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker.  It's dangerous out there.Thanks To Our Contributors For The ""M/T Vicuna"" Feature

Our Valued Contributors for this feature are:
* Anonymous contributor(s) who wish to be anonymous

Joao Diego De Souza Rocha (J. Diego), Brazshipping Maritima Ltd. at Victoria City, Brazil

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

* NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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