The crew of a luxury party ship’s failure to respond to a “rotten-egg” smell contributed to the build-up of a deadly gas that likely killed a woman, a report has found.
Shalina Abdulhussein, 39, was unable to be revived after she was found slumped inside the toilet of the Lady Rose during a cruise of Sydney Harbour on February 2 last year
A report by the Office of Transport Safety Investigations (OTSI) found that the mother-of-two was likely killed by exposure to hydrogen sulphide caused by a faulty waterless hand basin trap inside the sewerage system.
Ship master Paul Titze, 45, has been charged with a string of offences by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, including unreasonably placing another person’s safety at risk and recklessly putting another person/vessel at risk.
The matter was mentioned in the Downing Centre Local Court this week and will return to court for a hearing in February.
Just 30 minutes after setting sail about 12.30pm for a four-hour charter, some of the 27 passengers began complaining of a strong odour.
The smell became so bad that several passengers said they could only use the toilet by holding their breath while the door was held open, while others reported difficulty breathing and headaches.
“The odour … described as ‘like rotten eggs’, was becoming progressively worse,” the OTSI report found.
“At this point several of the passengers were ill and had succumbed to vomiting.”
At around 3.30pm, Ms Abdulhussein was reported as missing before she was found unconscious inside a lower deck toilet cubicle.
Hydrogen sulphide is a colourless, poisonous gas that is often produced when organic matter is broken down in the absence of oxygen.
The OTSI report found that the build-up was likely caused by deficiencies in the ship’s sewerage system, and the ship departed with its port and starboard sullage tanks partially full.
“The production of hydrogen sulphide within the sullage tanks of Lady Rose was also exacerbated by the lack of a regular scheduled cleaning program,” the OTSI report found.
“The lack of urgency from the crew in responding to the presence of rotten-egg like odours on board the vessel likely contributed to the amount of hydrogen sulphide entering the subject toilet cubicle.
“Their actions indicated a lack of awareness concerning the risk hydrogen sulphide presented.”
The Lady Rose has been refurbished and renamed My Way by its owners All Occasion Cruises.