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Back in January 2015 Fred Olsen’s Boudicca experienced a fire in her engine room. Thankfully no-one, either passengers or crew, was injured or hurt, and the fire was quickly brought under control. However Boudicca suffered some fire and water damage to an engine room, the cruise she was on was cancelled and passengers flown home. I did some posts at the time (you’ll need to scroll down past this new post to read the older ones). I also promised to post a link to the investigation report when it became available. The report was in fact published today.

I’ve had the chance to read through the report at least briefly. There’s a narrative of events in Section 3 that’s detailed and very interesting. Broadly, a fire occurred in an an engine space when a fuel line (actually, a ‘fuel oil pressure gauge supply line’) from a generator to a pressure gauge fractured. The pressure in the line would have been approximately 5 bar, so when it fractured inflammable vapour/liquid quickly filled the space around the generator – the report says “the pressurised fuel occupied the atmosphere surrounding the engine”. This vapour/liquid came in contact with a nearby piece of hot machinery (a turbo charger) which was hot enough to ignite it, and the fire resulted.

The report says that the alarm sounded quickly, and the engineering crew responded quickly and professionally. Appropriate actions were taken from the very first knowledge of the fire. Firefighting crews were assembled, and the fire was extinguished in just over an hour. The report makes it clear that at all times it was confined to the engine room space in which it had started; it never spread to any other spaces or areas.

The report investigates reasons why the supply line  fractured, but is unable to state any obvious or conclusive cause. It concludes that the steel fuel oil pressure gauge supply line (the line that fractured) “may have suffered from fatigue failure through engine-generated vibrations causing the steel pipe to work-harden resulting in the supply line becoming brittle and therefore more susceptible to fracture…”. My (non-technical) interpretation is that they’re saying “probably, after a lot of use it just broke”.

Of particular interest at the time was that the Captain did not summon passengers to emergency stations. There were early public announcements of a “Code Bravo” nature, and subsequently the Captain addressed the passengers and crew members directly once he had assessed the situation. The report quotes him as saying (to the investigation, I presume) “the affected area was completely isolated and I evaluated the situation again, I found it to be in a secured and safe state and I decided thatthere was no need for escalating the emergency“. Then the report continues ‘he announced to the guests and crew members “we have a situation in the engine room and all is under control, so you can all relax and I will keep you updated as we progress this incident” ‘. As far as I can see the report makes no comment on these remarks, nor on the Captain’s decision to not bring the ship’s passengers and company to muster stations.

Finally the report says (paragraph 5.4) “The initial reaction by the crew in establishing a timely emergency response should be commended. The instinct and professionalism exhibited by the crew was instrumental to the successful outcome and proved effective in containing the spread and extinguishing the fire without casualties.”

The report is an interesting read. You can find it, and download it, here.

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