Jul 032014

wisdomFire drills ensure  that officers and crew know how to fight a fire efficiently, at least in an ideal world. In the case of the bulk log carrier Taokas the reality was that shipboard fire drills were of little value when a real fire occurred in the accommodation.

Australia’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission was unable to determine how the fire started in an AB’s cabin on 11 July 2013 because the crew had started cleaning it after the blaze was extinguished. True, the crew did extinguish the fire after 25 minutes but showed that some basic firefighting knowledge was lacking.

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Jun 302014

EUGEN MÆRSKDid it fall or was it pushed? Investigators are not sure whether a fire in collapsed containers aboard the 11,000 teu Eugene Maersk on 18 June 2013 was a result of friction heat during the collapse or whether there was an existing smaller fire in a container before the collapse. They are certain that in both scenarios the collapse of containers was considered a major contributing factor to the fire.

Fighting the fire might have been easier if the available equipment was appropriate to the job. In the crew’s opinion there was no doubt about the importance of getting water inside the burning containers but  the special
equipment provided on board for this purpose proved to be of little or no use.

Denmark’s Maritime Accident Investigation Board, DMAIB, says: “The reason for the collapse of containers leading up to the fire was most likely a combination of multiple factors, including the structural integrity of the containers, the weather conditions, the stack weights, the lashings and dynamic forces acting on the ship.

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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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Deepwater Horizon – More Tragedies In The Pipeline?

 Accident Investigation, accident reporting, explosion, fire, Offshore  Comments Off on Deepwater Horizon – More Tragedies In The Pipeline?
Jun 072014

DWHEffective compression, a phenomenon not previously identified as a problem with drill pipe during well operations, lead to the failure of the Blow Out Preventer, BOP, to shut off oil and gas flow on the Deepwater Horizon. The phenomenon caused the pipe to buckle almost as soon ss the explosion began which suggests the danger still exists in other blow-out preventers currently in use.

Says the US Chemical Safety Board , which hs relesed its draft report on the incident: ” The blowout preventer that was intended to shut off the flow of high-pressure oil and gas from the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico during the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010, failed to seal the well because drill pipe buckled for reasons the offshore drilling industry remains largely unaware of”.

The blowout caused explosions and a fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig, leading to the deaths of 11 personnel onboard and serious injuries to 17 others.  Nearly 100 others escaped from the burning rig, which sank two days later, leaving the Macondo well spewing oil and gas into Gulf waters for a total of 87 days. By that time the resulting oil spill was the largest in offshore history.  The failure of the BOP directly led to the oil spill and contributed to the severity of the incident on the rig.

According to the CSB report concluded that the pipe buckling likely occurred during the first minutes of the blowout, as crews desperately sought to regain control of oil and gas surging up from the Macondo well.  Although other investigations had previously noted that the Macondo drill pipe was found in a bent or buckled state, this was assumed to have occurred days later, after the blowout was well underway. Continue reading »

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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Maersk Champion Fire – The Burn In The Box

 Accident, Accident report, AHTS, fire  Comments Off on Maersk Champion Fire – The Burn In The Box
Jan 022013
No-one knows for sure how chlorine granules reacted with the box contents.

No-one knows for sure how chlorine granules reacted with the box contents.

Nobody knows precisely how a box of discarded medical and chemical residues ignited and caused a serious fire on the AHTS Maersk Champion on 12 January 2012, says a report from Denmark’s Maritime Accident Investigation Board, but the incident raised a number of notable lessons, from the discarding of waste to potential problems refilling SCBA gear.

The fire in the ship’s hospital occured   while Maersk Champion was engaged in tanker lifting/heading control off the Brazilian coast.

Says the DMAIB: ‘The cause of the fire was most likely self ignition by a chemical reaction between chlorine-containing granules and other chemical substances in a plastic box with medicine and chemical
residues located in the ship’s hospital”.

Outdated medicine, aluminium containers with insecticide and plastic containers with chlorine containing granules had been collected and contained in a plastic box to be taken ashore. Everything contained in the box was packed and wrapped. A few hours later  fire broke out at the site of the plastic box.

A matter of concern, although it did not affect the firefighting was difficulty accessing the air compressor to refill bottles being used by firefighter

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Fire: BBC Baltic – Half-hearted Hot-Work Procedures

 Accident, Accident report, ATSB, Australia, fire  Comments Off on Fire: BBC Baltic – Half-hearted Hot-Work Procedures
Jul 202012

BBC Baltic burns

All too often there seems to be a disconnect between what procedures are supposed to achieve in terms of safety and the place of paperwork. So it was with a fire aboard BBC Baltic.

Procedures and permits are safety nets. When they become merely a paper exercise bad things happen.

At about 1605 on 26 January 2012, a fire broke out in the number one cargo hold of the general cargo ship BBC Baltic while it was discharging cargo in Port Hedland. At the time, workers from Cervan Marine, a local engineering company, were gas cutting in the cargo hold using an oxy-acetylene torch. The ship’s crew assisted by the local emergency services fought the fire and, by 1625, had extinguished it. There were no injuries as a result of the incident and damage to the ship and its cargo was not serious.

In carrying out the hot work on board BBC Baltic, neither the ship’s crew nor the Cervan Marine workers properly considered and mitigated the risk of fire. All the precautions listed on the ship’s hot work permit were not taken nor was the permit completed properly. Similarly, all the measures listed on Cervan Marine’s job safety analysis were not taken. Furthermore, a tool box meeting was not held to discuss the work and risk, define roles and responsibilities, and the action to take in case of a fire. 

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Burning Flaminia Abandoned – Were Dangerous Containers Declared?

 accident reporting, containership, explosion, fire  Comments Off on Burning Flaminia Abandoned – Were Dangerous Containers Declared?
Jul 152012

MSC Flaminia – Was the cargo manifest accurate? Photo: Lampje, MSC Ships Blog

Crew have abandoned the 75,590 tonne German-flagged containership MSC Flaminia following an explosion in a cargo hold.

The incident may again raise concerns regarding the accuracy of container manifests. A similar fire occurred in 2006 aboard the Hyundai Fortune, possibly due to calcium hypochlorite, with secondary explosions from fireworks carried aboard.

Attention may also be paid to the possibility of contaminated gases in reefer units, which caused problems in 2011.

At 10:07 on Sunday Falmouth Coastguard received the relayed mayday broadcast from the German registered MSC Flaminia reporting that the crew on board had abandoned the vessel.

Falmouth Coastguard broadcast an alert to all vessels in the area and the nearest vessel which could provide assistance was the oil tanker DS Crown which immediately changed course to intercept the MSC Flaminia. Six other merchant vessels also proceeded to the location to help with the search and rescue operation but were more than six hours from the location. Rescue helicopters do not have the endurance required to attend an incident of this nature because the vessel is approximately 1,000 miles from land mid way between the UK and Canada.

John Green, Apostleship of the Sea Director of Development says “This tragedy is a reminder of the dangers seafarers face each day to bring us various goods we rely on. Like so many seafarers, the crew on the Flaminia lived a very hard life. But they go to sea because it’s the only way they can provide for their families.”

DS Crown arrived on scene to confirm that the MSC Flaminia was still burning and recovered 24 people from a lifeboat and a liferaft. Four crew had suffered injuries. The injured crew have been transferred to the vessel MSC Stella which will take them to the Azores. One crew member is missing.

The MSC Flaminia is a large container vessel of 75,590 gross tonnage and had 25 people on board. Crew of the MSC Flaminia include German, Polish and Filipino nationals. Weather conditions on scene were winds force 3-4 with a one metre swell.

See Also

International P&I Issues Calcium Hypochlorite Warning

ITF Pleased On Shipper Reaction to Exploding Reefers

Exploding Reefers: The Vietnam Connection

Contaminated/Counterfeit Gas Danger to Reefers