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On 3 February 1995 the Norwegian flag tanker Team Heina was at anchor off Sydney Harbour, waiting to berth at Gore Bay, when, at about 0945, a compression fitting on a line to a fuel pressure gauge on No.3 diesel generator blew out. The resulting spray of hot heavy fuel oil at about 6 bar pressure, ignited on the engine's exhaust manifold and then spread burning oil over the deckhead above the engine. The fire intensified and expanded rapidly.

Most of the engineering department personnel were working around the engine room at the time. The First Engineer ran to the engine control room and shut down the generator before attacking the fire with an extinguisher. The extinguisher, however, failed to discharge. The motorman had grabbed another extinguisher but that, too, failed to discharge. By the time other extinguishers had been brought to the scene and used, the fire had increased to the point where the Chief Engineer decided to evacuate the engine room.

The engine room was evacuated, the vent flaps were closed and the vessel's fixed fire- fighting system (Halon) was discharged. When it became apparent to the ship's crew, who were making their way to their muster stations on deck, that it was a serious fire, a number of them ran to the port lifeboat.

Ten to fifteen minutes after discharging the Halon, a crew member, wearing breathing apparatus, made a re-entry and reported that some small patches of fire remained. These were put out by two other crew members with portable extinguishers.

The First Engineer, wearing breathing apparatus made an entry and started one of the diesel generators, restoring power to the vessel which had remained blacked out since No.3 generator had been stopped. The emergency generator had started but failed to come on line.

The engine room was ventilated and the damage was assessed. Initially it appeared that the damage was superficial, but closer inspection of the main cable run above No.3 generator revealed that it had suffered some damage. The classification society imposed a condition of class on the vessel, requiring repairs at the next drydocking. Pending repairs, only Nos. 1 and 2 generators could be used.

Conclusions

These conclusions identify the different factors contributing to the accident and should be not read as apportioning blame or liability to any particular organisation or individual.

  1. The fire in the engine room was caused by a spray of hot fuel oil, from a failed compression fitting on the fuel rail of the starboard generator engine (No.3), being ignited by the hot exhaust manifold.
  2. The pipe to the fuel pressure gauge had blown out of the compression fitting following prolonged fretting of the pipe within the olive and of the olive within the compression fitting. The fretting was caused by misalignment of the pipe with the fitting and the added fact that the pipe had probably not been inserted sufficiently far into the olive on initial assembly. The combined effect would have been exacerbated by engine vibration.
  3. The actions taken by the ship's staff to fight the fire were correct and the speed with which the preparations for Halon flooding were made was commendable.
  4. It is speculative as to whether the failure of the first two dry powder fire extinguishers to discharge had any effect on the overall fire-fighting operations. However, it is not expected that two extinguishers serviced only six days previously, should fail in such a manner. The Inspector considers that the work load and schedule for servicing the ship's fire-fighting equipment by one man was such that the service could not have been sufficiently thorough.
  5. The re-entry to the engine room, without breathing apparatus, was made on the assumption that there had been sufficient ventilation for sufficient time. As portable oxygen analysers are part of the safety equipment carried by tankers, it would have been prudent to have used one to check the atmosphere before the re-entry was made.
Download Final Report
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General details
Date: 03 February 1995 Investigation status: Completed 
  
Location:Sydney Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales  
Release date: 31 July 1995  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
 
Vessel details
Vessel: Team Heina 
Flag: Norway 
IMO: 8808501 
Type of Operation: Tanker 
Damage to Vessel: Substantial 
Departure point:Sydney Harbour, NSW
 
 
 
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Last update 19 May 2016