Progressive chafing of one of the port main engine’s fuel injector leak-off pipes on SD Dexterous caused the pipe to fail. Diesel fuel then discharged onto the hot engine, where it ignited, says the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch preliminary report. As a result, vessel owner Serco Marine Services has increased its senior engineering staff at Board level as well as in the Clyde area, and has reviewed all aspects of its engineering practices. The company has also updated its crisis management organisation and is developing an emergency drill schedule for all vessel manning combinations.
SD Dexterous was in company with another Serco tug involved in warship escort duties in the Gareloch. As the vessel approached Rhu Narrows, the fire alarm sounded and the chief engineer discovered a fire in the vicinity of the port main engine. The engine room was closed down as the tugmaster advised the pilot on the warship and shore authorities of the situation. Soon afterwards, the vessel went to anchor, the engines were shut down and CO2 was released into the engine room. The crew were safely evacuated and boundary cooling was established by other Serco vessels. Some hours later, the fire was confirmed to be extinguished and SD Dexterous was towed to a nearby berth.
The Deputy Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to Serco Marine Services advising of the need for quality engineering oversight. He has also highlighted the risks associated with frequent movement of crew between vessels, notably the impact this can have on individuals’ specific vessel knowledge.