When there’s a history of technical failures find out why and fix it is the lesson of the 2,700 gt oil tanker Thames Fisher which lost main engine power after departing the Esso marine terminal at Fawley, Southampton, Hants, on 4 October 2009. A blocked sea water inlet filter at the fresh water cooler had resulted in main engine shutdown.
A preliminary investigation by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that the James Fisher Shipping Services-owned vessel had a history of failures related to the sea water cooling system.
The MAIB synopsis says:”At 0036 on 4 October 2009, Thames Fisher departed Esso’s marine terminal at Fawley after discharging her cargo of petroleum products. She sailed in the ballast condition, and had a pilot on board. As the vessel increased speed to 8 knots, the chief engineer received a high temperature alarm on the main cooling fresh water. He called the master and was informing him of the situation when the main engine shut down on high cooling water temperature. The pilot immediately called for tugs, which arrived in the scene about 20 minutes later. The vessel was taken to a safe anchorage, where the chief engineer found the cause of the problem to be a blocked sea water inlet filter at the fresh water cooler. After cleaning the filter, the vessel continued on her way at 0224.
The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents wrote to James Fisher Shipping Services Ltd, advising the company to:
- Conduct a detailed technical assessment of the cooling water system arrangement fitted to Thames Fisher and her sister vessels, with the objective of removing the potential for unpredictable blackouts and engine failure.
- Review the company’s safety management system to ensure that a mechanism exists to detect, and therefore correct, repeated or systematic failures on board its vessels.
James Fisher shippping Services Ltd:
- Has undertaken a prompt review of its quality management system.
- Is replacing the plate strainers in the sea water suction and fresh water cooler inlet filters with basket-type filters, and is installing a by-pass facility to the sea water inlet filter of the fresh water cooler and adjusting alarm settings of the main engine fresh water cooling “