Fire On Auxiliary Engine Onboard Container Vessel

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Transport Malta’s Marine Safety Investigation Unit has issued an investigation report into a fire onboard a container vessel, whilst alongside at Besiktas Shipyard, Türkiye.

The incident

According to Transport Malta, shortly after 2340 (LT) on 04 July 2023, a fire was discovered on auxiliary engine no. 4 on board the Maltese-registered container vessel, whilst alongside at Besiktas Shipyard, Türkiye.

The vessel’s fuel oil quick-closing valves were closed immediately. The crew members tried to fight the fire using portable fire-extinguishing media. The fire was controlled and eventually extinguished.

The MSIU safety investigation established that the immediate cause of the fire was incorrect compression spring pressure setting on unit no. 5 of auxiliary engine no. 4.

Taking into consideration the safety actions by the Company, no recommendations have been made following the safety investigation.

Investigation

According to Transport Malta, the cylinder head no. 5 safety valve leaked hot combustion gases and flames into the engine room. A post-accident test on the safety valve indicated that it opened at 5 bar, only 2.95% of the pressure required by the engine manufacturers.

Furthermore, it is highly probable that the flames and hot gases came into contact with the cables inside the cable trunking through one of the holes drilled on its side. Notably, the safety valve had accumulated about 35% of its maximum running hours as stipulated in the planned maintenance program.

Despite the crew’s inspection after the fire, no loose lock nut was found, which could have facilitated the unscrewing of the cap nut. Additionally, the loss of spring compression may have resulted from relaxation. Finally, the engineers could not have detected the failure of the compression spring.

The Company has taken the following safety actions:

  • All safety valves fitted on auxiliary engine no. 4 were rechecked.
  • Amendments were made to the vessel’s PMS so that safety valves are checked, overhauled, or adjusted every 12,000 hours and replaced after 24,000 hours.
  • Adjustments were made to the cable trunking to prevent similar damage from fires coming in direct contact with the cable trunking.
  • All safety valves fitted on the other auxiliary engines were checked.
  • Plans were put in place to replace all the safety valves in the upcoming overhauls.

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Source: Transport Malta