Marine safety investigations & reports

Independent investigation into the engine room fire on board the Marshall Islands registered container ship MSC Lugano off Esperance, Western Australia, on 31 March 2008.

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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[Download  PDF: 1.66MB]

At about 1115 on 31 March 2008, a fire started in the engine room of the container ship MSC Lugano. The chief engineer operated the quick closing valves and the remote stops for the engine room fans and oil pumps. The crew closed the dampers for the engine room fans and the funnel vents and rigged fire hoses to boundary cool the engine room casing and funnel.

After about 50 minutes, the fire cut the electrical power supply to the emergency fire pump and water ceased to flow from the fire hoses. The master ordered the crew to close the engine room skylight and then muster. He then instructed the chief engineer to activate the ship's fixed fire extinguishing system.

At 1220, the master reported the fire to the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC).

By 1600, the crew had determined that the fire was extinguished. The engine room was ventilated and the crew entered to assess the damage. They were able to re-start many of the engine room systems and restore electrical power but they could not re-start the main engine. The ship was now about 90 miles south of Esperance, Western Australia and drifting towards the Archipelago of the Recherche.

The ship's owners entered into an agreement to tow the ship to Fremantle and, on 1 April, the tug Wambiri departed from Fremantle, Western Australia. Three other tugs, two based in Esperance and one that was in the vicinity towing a barge, were directed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to assist the ship until Wambiri arrived.

By 1245 on 5 April, Wambiri had rendezvoused with MSC Lugano and taken the ship in tow. The tow continued without incident and at 1506 on 13 April, the disabled ship berthed in Fremantle.

The report identifies a number of safety issues and advises of safety actions already taken and those recommended by the ATSB.

Safety Advisory Notices

[MS2009001] [MS2009002] [MS2009003]

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.66MB]
General details
Date: 31 March 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: UTC +9   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Off West Australian coast    
State: Western Australia    
Release date: 05 February 2009   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel MSC Lugano  
Flag Marshall Island  
IMO 8714217  
Type of operation Container Ship  
Damage to vessel Minor  
Departure point Adelaide, South Australia  
Destination Fremantle, Western Australia  
Last update 03 April 2020