Investigations into the 11 December 2014 engine room fire aboard Oceania Insignia continue into the engine room fire aboard the cruiseship Oceania Insignia which cost three lives but the US Coast Guard has already issued a safety alert. It highlights maintenance issues and the important of having a personal evacuation plan.
Marshall Islands-flagged, the 50,000 gt Insignia was built in 1998. The vessel was refurbished in 2014 and, says Oceania: “has undergone a multimillion-dollar transformation to create a virtually new ship”.
Says the USCG safety alert:
“…investigation into the fire has revealed that a fuel line supply flange integral to the engine parted after three bolts completely loosened and the remaining bolt fractured. Other bolts within the engine’s hot box were also found broken. The involved engine was a Wartsila model VASA12V32LNE also referenced as a VASA 32. It is a very common engine with thousands operating in ship and shore side service.
“Over its service life the manufacturer has produced a number of technical bulletins and service letters related to the fuel system piping, shielding of hot surfaces, other fire protection devices, and availability of components to meet SOLAS requirements. In its service letters Wartsila notes that fuel pipes leading to and from the injection pumps are subject to pressure pulses derived from the injection pumps, vibrations caused by normal engine vibrations, and static stresses caused by heat expansion. Any repairs or modifications to the fuel system must follow manufacturer guidance provided in associated manuals, bulletins, and service letters. Owners and operators may obtain engine bulletins and service letters through their Wartsila service representative and other OEM / engine manufacturers.
In this case, the loosening of these bolts may have been caused by vibrational loosening. It is unknown when the involved piping was last removed and reinstalled and whether or not proper torque was applied to the bolts”.
Machinery spaces onboard cruise ships and other large vessels are complex spaces where an unfamiliar person can
become quite disoriented, particularly during emergencies. Additional factors like the loss of all power and lighting or excessive smoke can make rapid evacuation extremely difficult.
The USCG advises: “There are simple steps to improve the odds of a successful escape. Before any work begins, learn the
locations of available exits and escape routes in all directions, for instance, up and down levels and platforms, port and starboard). If there are watertight doors present review the procedures to manually open them if they should be closed. Also learn the location of Emergency Escape Breathing Devices, EEBDs, and review their proper usage and activation. Lastly and very importantly, always carry a good flashlight in your pocket. The light it provides may save your life”.