MAIB Cautions, Appeals After QM2 Capacitor Blast

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Dec 032010

Soot staining on the blown-out doors of the harmonic filter casing

Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, has issued an urgent Safety Digest which recommends checks on vessels with electric propulsion which have large capacitors in harmonic filters and has appealed for information regrading similar events elsewhere. The bulletin follows the catastrophic failure of a capacitor and explosion in an 11kV harmonic filter on board the passenger cruise vessel RMS Queen Mary 2.

At 0426 (UTC+1) on 23 September 2010, the cruise liner RMS Queen Mary 2 was approaching Barcelona when one of 12 capacitors in a harmonic filter1 failed (Figure 1), accompanied by a loud explosion. The explosion resulted in extensive damage to the surrounding electric panels and caused the vessel to black out. There were no navigational hazards nearby, main power was restored at 0455 and the ship was able to get back underway at 0523.

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