The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has issued a safety alert for operators of domestic commercial vessels (DCVs) regarding the risks associated with transporting battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferries. Marine Order 504 requires operators to conduct a risk assessment to address the hazards resulting from the transport of BEVs on their vessels, including developing ship-specific procedures to prevent and contain fire incidents involving BEVs.
Operators transporting BEVs on DCVs should consider new risks, such as high voltage shocks, direct flames, fire intensity and toxic gases. Some BEVs have lower ground clearance and are more susceptible to damage from ramps when boarding. The lower the charge on the vehicle battery, the lower the likelihood of a thermally out-of-control fire and the more water is needed to extinguish it. Additionally, the stability of the vessel must be assessed to ensure adequate drainage options for the free flow of water on deck.
AMSA recommends that operators review their safety management systems and implement operational guidelines, such as marking BEVs, stowing them in designated areas away from passengers, and consulting with local fire and rescue services to establish emergency response procedures for BEV fires. Operators must also consider the increased water consumption required to fight BEV fires and consult with fire and rescue services to establish protocols for mitigating risks associated with BEV transport.