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Cargo ship loaded with containers close to coast

Member Alert

MSS Case January: Lack of insulation caused fatal fire in the engine room

The vessel was sailing smoothly in open sea towards the next port, in fine weather. Two weeks earlier the engineers had removed a section of the fuel pump pipe, which was in poor condition. They only carried out a quick visual inspection, assuming that the rest of the pipe was in good condition. Unfortunately, cracks on the pipe, concealed by dirt and oil, went unnoticed.

Below the cracked fuel pipe there was another fuel pipe, which had damaged insulation, exposing the pipe, and providing no protection.

It was morning and an oiler was carrying out his rounds.

When he approached the main engine he could see smoke and flames close to the fuel pumps by the main engine. There was an explosion with fire spreading fast and it was soon out of control. The fire alarms sounded but the automatic hi-fog system did not start.

This was because the hi-fog system was set to manual instead of automatic, deviating from the vessel’s SMS.

The Second Engineer and the motorman, who were in the engine workshop at the time of the explosion, could not escape without entering the engine room, as there was no separate emergency escape route from the workshop. Running past the spreading fire, they made their way to the exit.

Read more about this case in the latest Monthly Safety Scenario.

For more Loss Prevention information, please contact: 
Joakim Enström, 
Loss Prevention Officer

Each month, the Club’s Loss Prevention team issues a new safety scenario to assist members in their efforts to comply with international safety regulations and follow best practices.