769 - 06/11 - The hidden dangers of Log Cargoes - Worldwide

Log cargoes are prone to decomposition whilst en route. The process of decomposition results in a depletion of oxygen in the surrounding area. When this occurs in a ship's hold a dangerously low O2 atmosphere is created in the hold. This is the hidden danger of carrying log cargoes.

This is precisely what befell two Korean seamen on board a vessel moored at Port Marsden, Wellington New Zealand last May. The vessel was ill prepared to carry logs as it was found after investigation that the crew were unaware of the dangers of carrying logs, had no rescue training and lacked basic emergency skills.

The chief officer lost consciousness while he was climbing into the ship's hold and fell from the ladder onto the logs below. The crew member who tried to save him also passed out, fell and died within minutes.

It was later discovered that the sailors were killed by a lack of oxygen and the presence of toxic gases caused by the organic decomposition of logs. The oxygen levels in the hold were between 1% ~ 3% low enough to cause unconsciousness in seconds.

There are many published recommendations and warnings regarding the carriage of log cargoes and the Club would wish to reinforce to Members that such advice should always be sought before carrying such cargoes.


This notice is in addition to the previously issued Bulletin 630 (“Carriage of logs – Fatality” issued 03/09) Mention should be made to the inexperience and lack of training of the crew which contributed to this accident but the main purpose of this Bulletin is to highlight the hidden dangers of log cargoes and to reinforce the fact that many cargoes that may seem benign may in fact have dangerous qualities when transported by sea.



Source of Information: 
Loss Prevention Dept.
UK P&I Club

Industry developments

Polar Shipping

Legal, navigational and environmental resources, news and updates on the development of polar shipping. Read more

US VRP Compliance

With effect from 30th January 2014 non-tank as well as tankships calling at US ports will be required to submit VRPs.  For Club and other resources to assist in compliance click here

International Environmental compliance

Environmental Compliance resource page collates material in respect of International environmental compliance issues affecting our Members. Information from the Club, Loss Prevention and external resources has been collated in one place for ease of reference.

MLC 2006

The Maritime Labour Convention enters into force in August 2013 - resources, news & advice on implementation can be found in this dedicated section.  READ MORE

International sanctions

Recent guidance & corresponding material in respect of international sanctions against various countries has been updated with respect to temporary easing of sanctions against Iran.  READ MORE


Essential precautions and preparation against piracy, as well as additional information and resources, loss prevention advisories and useful external web links

Emergency Contacts

If you need to call our offices out of hours and at weekends, click After Office hours for a up to date list of the names of the Duty Executives and their mobile phone numbers. 

Ship Finder

This Ship Finder is updated on a daily basis. Members who need to advise the Club of updates to their recorded ships' details should advise their usual underwriting contact.