Apr 082015

In an unprecedented move Maersk has released CCTV footage of an engineroom fire aboard Maersk Iowa to help determine the cause of the fire. The footage was posted on the gCaptain site.

A statement from Maersk, published by gCaptain says: “The video footage (posted on gCaptain today) depicts the mechanical failure of a main engine air start valve resulting in an explosion and fire in the engine room of the Maersk Iowa while underway on January 10th, 2015. No one was injured by this incident, and thanks to the quick and professional emergency response of the officers and crew, any potential further damage was contained with no harm to the environment. The Company has shared this particular video footage with the USCG, Lloyd’s Register and other internal and external stakeholders in an effort to understand its root cause for implementing corrective action across our fleet. The video has also been shared with our ships crews’ as a training aid.”

Video below
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Early Lessons From Insignia Fire And Personal Escape

 cruise liner, cruises line,, engine room, fire, fire/explosion, safety alert, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on Early Lessons From Insignia Fire And Personal Escape
Mar 162015

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:

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Aug 072014

Towing vessel Safety Runner tied up on the Mobile River next to two Kirby barges at the Oil Recovery Company Gas Freeing Terminal, ORC, unaware that the barges were being cleaned of residual diesel. Shortly afterwards the engines aboard Safety Runner began racing and could not be shut down, there was a fire which spread to the to the barges, resulting in explosions.

Three people sustained serious burn injuries. The total damage to the vessel and barge was estimated at $5.7 million.

Poor operations manuals and uncertified personnel played a key role in the incident. Continue reading »

Jun 132014


A major contributory factorwas the ineffective heat shielding of hot surfaces on the adjacent port main engine, specifically the turbo charger outlet, Allowing fuel oil to come into direct contact with hot surfaces.

A major contributory factor was the ineffective heat shielding of hot surfaces on the adjacent port main engine, specifically the turbo charger outlet, Allowing fuel oil to come into direct contact with hot surfaces.

Marine Safety Forum has issued a safety alert following an engine room fire aboard one of its member’s ships. The issue raises concerns about the potential for fire when oil purifiers leak onto hot surfaces. Have you checked yours lately?

Says the alert, which raises several safety issues:: “Recently onboard one of our vessels a fire occurred in the engine room space in way of the fuel oil purifier unit and port main engine. This resulted in a blackout situation, a temporary loss of propulsion and damage to engine room equipment, wiring etc.

“The vessel informed the platform at the location, they were well clear of the installation (1.5 nautical miles) in the drift off position. There were no other vessels in the area. The vessel was in contact with the Coast guard throughout the incident and they were kept abreast of the situation. The fire was extinguished by ship staff.
“Power was restored and the vessel made way to port for remedial repairs and incident investigation. There were no injuries or environmental impact sustained due to this incident; however the potential for a less favourable outcome was present.”
The seal between the purifier main body and cover was not effective enough in preventing fuel oil leaking out. Lagging and shielding in way of the Port main engine exhaust and turbo charger was not effective in preventing exposure to the hot surfaces below (The turbo charger outlet was the most likely initial ignition point), allowing fuel oil to come into contact with hot surface. The purifier unit had a number of plastic hoses fitted to it. It is felt that this had an impact on the extent of the damage, as when these melted they allowed more fuel to feed the fire.

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FV Denarius Fire: Crew Not Competent To See Burn Coming

 Accident report, engine room, fire, maritime safety news  Comments Off on FV Denarius Fire: Crew Not Competent To See Burn Coming
Feb 092013
Denarius - crew didn't see the burn coming

Denarius – crew didn’t see the burn coming

For some five hours the main engine ran with retarded timing. A build-up of unburnt fuel eventually led to a fire that resulted in the vessel being abandoned. Says the newly release investigation report by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, “The crew did not have the technical competence to diagnose or rectify the fuel injection pump timing problem, and did not foresee the potential consequences of continuing to run the malfunctioning engine.

When the smoke in the wheelhouse intensified, the skipper had no hesitation in ordering his crew onto deck to make preparations for abandonment. This decision, taken at an early stage of the escalating situation, was paramount to the successful abandonment of Denarius.

As a result of a crewman bravely going aft along the shelter deck and down onto the main deck to retrieve the thermal floatation suits andlifejackets, the crew were suitably attired prior to abandonment. This would have greatly enhanced their chances of survival if they had been forced to enter the water. However, the opportunity to close the aft weathertight door, having retrieved the equipment, was missed. Continue reading »

Jan 022013
Know where it is before it burns.

Know where it is before it burns.

Do you know where your fire suppression system pressure switch is? And is it in the right place? Asks the US Coast Guard in a safety alert following a vessel fire in which the engine room ventilation could not be secured because the switch was in the engine room.

These critical components sense the activation of the system and then electrically secures the ventilation systems operating in the protected space. Securing the ventilation is essential in extinguishing a fire onboard a vessel. It assists in isolating the fire within the space, minimizes the introduction of additional oxygen to fuel the fire and prevents the loss of fire suppression agents from the space.

Recently, a vessel with an installed fixed CO2 fire suppression system, suffered extensive damage due to a fire that started in the engine room. During the firefighting efforts the crew reported that the engine room ventilation could not be secured. A post casualty damage survey of the vessel revealed that the pressure switch used to secure the ventilation was located within the engine room. The result can be seen above compared to a new switch.

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QM2 Explosion/Powerloss: “critical equipment must ‘fail safe’,

 Accident, Accident report, engine room, explosion, fire  Comments Off on QM2 Explosion/Powerloss: “critical equipment must ‘fail safe’,
Jan 182012

In its investigation of an explosion and loss of propulsion aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2 Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch warns that protection systems for critical equipment must ‘fail safe’, and should be thoroughly tested at regular intervals to prove that all sub-components are functioning correctly. In particular, harmonic filters with current imbalance protection systems should be thoroughly checked by a competent person at the earliest opportunity.

Investigation of the catastrophic failure of a capacitor and explosion in the aft harmonic filter room  showed that the protection system for the harmonic filter did not work. As a result the vessel blacked out and was without steering or propulsion for 30 minutes. There were 3823 people on board.

Says MAIB: “there is a need to improve the awareness of the potential risks of high voltage harmonic distortion and arc flash… Awareness of the damaging effects of harmonic distortion needs to improve throughout the marine industry as the risks to equipment caused by harmonic distortion are likely to increase significantly as variable speed AC electric motors become more widely used in ships”.
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Wrong Rubber Fired Up Oscar Wilde

 Accident report, engine room, Ferry, fire  Comments Off on Wrong Rubber Fired Up Oscar Wilde
Mar 102011

Firefighters on dockside - burst disk was hot stuff aboard Oscar Wilde

A rubber diaphragm made of the wrong material, rust and scale-disabled high-expansion foam total flooding system, lack of maintenance local application and bilge foam systems and lack of thermal insulation resulted in spread of fire aboard the Bahamas-flagged ro-ro ferry Oscar Wilde says the MAIB report on the 2 February 2010 incident.

Says the MAIB: “At approximately 1913 on 2 February 2010, a fire broke out in the auxiliary engine room on board the Bahamas registered roll-on roll-off passenger ferry Oscar Wilde. The ferry had just sailed from Falmouth, UK, after completing her annual docking. The seat of the fire was in way of the auxiliary engines’ fuel supply module and quickly spread across the compartment. The fire was eventually extinguished by the ship’s crew at 2100. There were no passengers on board and none of the ship’s crew were injured. However, the fire caused the vessel to lose electrical power, which ultimately required her to be towed back into Falmouth for repairs.
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River Embley Bulker Fire: Maintenance and Automation But Crew Get Fire-Fighting Thumbs-Up

 Accident, Accident report, ATSB, Australia, engine room, explosion, fire  Comments Off on River Embley Bulker Fire: Maintenance and Automation But Crew Get Fire-Fighting Thumbs-Up
Jan 252011

Nobody could remember testing the fire alarm/shut-off

Australia’s Transport Safety Board, ATSB, gives the master and crew of the buk carrier River Embley a pat on the back on it’s investigation report of an engine room fire but also brings up issues of maintenance manuals, fatigue and automation.

Says the ATSB: “… the crew’s response was well organised, controlled and coordinated. They understood their roles and responsibilities, worked as a team and appropriately considered the evidence at hand when planning their response. .. Together, the master and crew demonstrated how effective a trained response to an unexpected emergency can be”

The fire followed an explosion in the vessel’s number three compressor due to overheating. The machine’s automatic high temperature alarn and shutoff was not working and probably had not been for some considerable time. Says ATSB: “Had the device operated correctly, the fire and explosion would not have occurred. ”

None of the engineers aboard could recall maintenance being carried out. The system was not part of regular shipboard maintenanc procedures nor was regular testing covered in the manufacture’s manual.

Action has been taken to correct these shortcomings.

The report notes that the duty engineer had started the compressor, which had previsiously be running wihout trouble, using remote start button in the engine room and went to bed. Within an hour the fire started. The second engineer, who was probably fatigued, did not check the compressor when he came on duty.

Says ATSB: “Traditionally, watch keeping engineers were trained to check machines, like air compressors, before starting them; and then confirm that the machine’s operating parameters had settled to their normal state after the machine had been running for a short period of time. However, today, this good engineering practice is often being disregarded. Many items of machinery are started and stopped automatically and engineers often start machines remotely without checking them once they are running.

Engineers have, over time, become more and more reliant on automation. However, while automated shutdowns and alarms can react to changes in system parameters, they are not as effective as a human in predicting future problems based on early diagnosis. Well trained engineers can use all their senses to determine if something is wrong or if a system parameter is different to normal before it reaches a critical ‘shutdown’ stage.”

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