Jun 052008

Denmark’s Maritime Authority has released its report on a fire aboard the AHTS Maersk Master.
During a tanker lifting operation on 4th February 2008 a fire broke out in the engine room of the AHTS Maersk Master. The fire could not be extinguished by means of portable extinguishers so actions were taken to engage the engine room water mist system and subsequently the CO2 system. After approximately 15 min. the fire was under control. The vessel was shortly after towed to a nearby shipyard for inspection.

One of the pipe connections for a differential pressure gauge mounted on the duplex fuel filter for main engine 1 had failed. This had caused the diesel oil to leak at high pressure. The diesel oil was then deflected onto the surroundings and further to hot surfaces where it was finally ignited.

There were no casualties.

Seat of the fire

Issues raised in the investigation:

1.) The water mist system should have started automatically but because of inappropriate placement of smoke and heat detectors it did not.

Furthermore it could not be engaged immediately by using the control panel by the engine room entrance. It has not been possible to establish why the system did not start when the Chief Engineer pushed the buttons on the panel. There were no instructions by the panel stating the possibility of operating manual valves in the winch garage. It was only by memory that the Chief Engineer knew this. This caused delays in engaging the water mist system.

2.) Emergency stop of fuel pumps and ventilators did not take place as the first precaution after the fire was rendered impossible to extinguish manually. Though only 30 seconds passed from the first attempts to start the water mist and to the emergency stops were engaged, the quantity of diesel oil fuelling the fire would have been reduced.

3.) Despite the recent service of the CO2 system it had a major leak by way of the pilot release bottle. It later showed that a threaded connection on the pilot bottle was wrongly fitted. Had this bottle been emptied in vain the release of the CO2 system would have been delayed further.

4.) As the cooling system for the emergency generator did not work properly there was a possibility that it would have shut down at a sudden point. It is possible that the cooling fans did not run due to burnt and hence shortcircuited control cables. The emergency supply and controls are not to be compromised by an engine room fire. After the fire new cables were reinstalled as before the fire.

5.) Entering the void space for inspections without safety equipment could have been fatal since it was concluded that smoke had entered from the engine room. This means that CO2 could have entered as well.

6.) Oils and chemicals should not have been stored in the void space.

It is the opinion of the Division that the Chief Engineer , given the serious situation, acted efficiently and competent with regard to announcing the fire, engaging the water mist system, tightening the CO2 pilot system and by restoring cooling for the emergency generator.

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