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The ATSB has found that the self propelled accommodation platform Safe Concordia had been plagued by problems in its electrical systems since its construction and these problems had not been adequately addressed before the platform suffered two electrical fires in its propulsion system after entering Bass Strait in September 2005.

Safe Concordia is a dynamic positioning, self propelled, semi-submersible accommodation platform that uses four electrically driven thrusters to maintain its position. The platforms construction and delivery trials were completed in March 2005. The platform was used operationally for its first contract in the Timor Sea before modifications were made to address various electrical problems that had occurred within its propulsion system. After the modifications were completed, the platform sailed from Singapore, bound for Bass Strait, Australia, where it was to be positioned about 30 metres from the Yolla gas production platform.

On 12 September 2005, after the platform had entered Bass Strait, a fire started in one of the Safe Concordia's thruster transformers. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found that the transformer fire was probably the result of an internal short circuit that occurred when the transformer insulation failed due to overheating. The transformers had overheated because of flaws in the design of the propulsion electrical system.

On 18 September, while still in Bass Strait, a fire occurred in an electrical cabinet that was providing power to another thruster motor. The cabinet fire was probably the result of an electrical arc that occurred when electricians had bypassed part of the electrical system to try and diagnose the ongoing problems and the execution of the task of bypassing the equipment was not adequately completed.

The ATSB report also concluded that Safe Concordia was not fit to fulfil its charter obligations in view of the unresolved faults in the thrusters electrical power systems. The National Offshore and Petroleum Safety Authority had not been made aware of the problems and the design of the platform did not allow for effective and safe fire fighting in the thruster machinery rooms.

The ATSB has made several safety recommendations with the aim of preventing further incidents of this type.

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the ATSBs internet site www.atsb.gov.au

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Last update 01 April 2011