Cutty Sark Murder Investigation

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Oct 192008

Inquiries into last year’s fire aboard the historic Cutty Sark on the Thames “had to be made to the standard of a murder investigation” says police inspector Dave Garwood, who announced ther findings to journalists. According to the police report the fire aboard the 19th century three-masted tea clipper was set off by an overheated vacuum cleaner.

Fortunately, less than two per cent of the vessel was destroyed in the blaze which took two hours to extinguish. Cutty Sark is the only surviving example of her class of what is regarded as the ultimate development of the sailing ship, their classic speed making them a precursor to the fast modern containership.

It is believed that a vacuum cleaner accidentally left running over a weekend during restoration work, or overheated electrical wiring triggered the fire.

The vessel is administered by the Cutty Sark Trust and the fire added £18m ($36m) to the cost of the project, which is currently £5.4m short of funds needed.

Lessons? Switch off electrical equipment when not in use and check that it is switched off before leaving the area.

Finns Fight Sock Fire To The Finish

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Aug 042008

We don’t normally cover incidents on military vessels but a fire aboard a Finnish minelayer, Pohjanmaa may yet have lessons for civilian merchant vessels, mainly, watch where you dry your socks.

Pohjanmaa, the biggest ship in the Finnish navy, caught fire on 1st August. According to Finnish news agency STT the fire was quickly extinguished and there was minimal damage.

According to the ship’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Jon von Weissenberg, “Conscripts had left their gear in the wrong place.” Those things being wet socks, the wrong place being too close to a radiator used for drying said socks.

MAC is well aware of cases in which oil-contaminated clothing has caught fire when near a source of heat (And of course, oil-soaked rags spontaneously combusting), but socks are a new one, although given the occasional lapse of personal hygiene a self-combusting sock might not be too impossible.

Anyway, beware of Finnish sailors with blazing socks.