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The Australian registered motor tanker Arthur Phillip was on a voyage from the Saladin oil terminal, West Australia, to Botany Bay, New South Wales, with a full cargo of crude oil. At about 2325 (UTC+9½), 5 May 1991, in approximate position 037 degrees 31 minutes South 132 degrees 59 minutes East, the fire alarm sounded and the bridge alarm panel indicated a fire in the accommodation block at main deck level. A fire was confirmed in the crew recreation room/bar. The master altered course to bring the Arthur Phillip closer to another vessel, the Alcides, in the event that assistance may have been required.

The fire was reported to be extinguished by 2340 and the Arthur Phillip resumed course for Botany Bay. No person was killed or injured, though some affect of smoke inhalation was reported by certain members of the crew. The fire resulted in significant damage to the crew recreation room/bar.

Under the provisions of the Navigation (Marine Casualty) Regulations the Inspector of Marine Accidents undertook an investigation to identify the circumstances in which the fire occurred and to determine its cause.


  1. The fire in the crew recreation room/bar aboard the Arhtur Phillip was most probably caused by a discarded cigarette falling from the occasional table into paper towelling on the deck.
  2. The responsibility for the presence of the towelling and the associated fire hazard rests, in varying degrees, with Messrs Cannon, Pitts, Hoger and Gregus.
  3. The responsibility for the source of ignition rests with the three smokers, Messrs Cannon, Hoger and Gregus.
  4. There is no evidence that the fire was in any way the result of a deliberate or malicious act.
  5. There is no direct evidence that drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor.However the Inspector, in considering the issue of the paper towelling, the destruction of the bar records (by persons unknown), the admitted actions of Messrs Gregus and Cannon and the reports from the Master and Officers considers that more beer was consumed than was admitted to and alcohol must be considered a contributor factor in the fire.
  6. The fire was effectively extinguished by the initial attack on the fire by Messrs Cannon, Pitts & Gregus, when directing the hose through the recreation room door grill.
  7. The Chief Engineer, Mr Craig, assisted by Mr Hoger and supported by Fourth Engineer, Mr Lesmond, extinguished residual smouldering material.
  8. The shipboard procedures were followed, however, the Inspector does not believe that the procedures reflect the optimum response, or that they are appropriate for contemporary shipping.
  9. The fire hose sited in the accommodation conformed to the statutory requirements, however the length and diameter of the hose were unsuitable for fighting an accommodation fire.
Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 411KB]
General details
Date: 05 May 1991 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 2325 (UTC+9 1/2)  
Location:Great Australian Bight Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia  
Release date: 16 January 1992  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel details
Vessel: Arthur Phillip 
Flag: Aus 
IMO: 7343516 
Type of Operation: Motor tanker 
Damage to Vessel: Substantial 
Departure point:Saladin oil terminal, WA
Departure time:N/A
Destination:Port Botany, NSW
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Last update 18 May 2016