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.