Technical Circular No: 016/2019

Subject: Confined Spaces: Silent & Invisible Killers

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  • Based on recent casualty where three people were asphyxiated while working onboard a laid up Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) the USCG has issued a Marine Safety Alert 04-19 (copy attached) on the dangers of confined space entry. 
  • The incident that caused death of 3 crew member was occurred during dewatering of MODU’s legs while crew were preparing it for a heavy lift transport to an overseas ship breaking facility. 
  • The Coast Guard says that Studies have shown that people often miss the obvious cues of a situation while under stress and because their focus is upon another effort or action that needs to be accomplished. Several sources indicate that over 50% of the workers in enclosed / confined spaces die while attempting to rescue their coworkers. 
  • The investigators were concerned, due to the fact that the Captain decided to enter the space with two other people without personal protective gear and a SCBA.
  • Therefore, in light of this incident, the Coast Guard strongly encourages all who work or may be employed onboard vessels in any role, whether they be senior shipboard officers or crew, riding crew, shore side managers, owners/operators, and other personnel to: 
    1. Obtain the requisite level of knowledge and training of confined space entry procedures including emergency and rescue procedures;
    2. Ensure crews undergo periodic confined space training and participate in routine and practical onboard emergency drills;
    3. Verify all required confined space entry and rescue safety equipment is onboard, maintained, tested and fully functional; and
    4. Continually appreciate the dangers involved in confined space entry and educate yourself by further study.
  • Ship owners/ operators and masters are advised to take note of above and bring the marine safety alert to the attention of all crew serving onboard, addressing the hazard and the related consequences with the aim to prevent recurrence.


  1. USCG Marine Safety Alert 04-19 reg. Confined Spaces: Silent & Invisible Killers. 


This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority.

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