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At 0435 on 16 February 2010, the bulk carrier River Embley was at anchor off Gladstone, Queensland, when the ship's fire alarms sounded, alerting the crew to an engine room fire. A few minutes later, while the engineers were investigating the fire, there was an explosion in the engine room.

The crew shut down the running machinery, the engine room vents were closed and the ship's electrical load was transferred to the emergency generator. They monitored the situation and at 0823 confirmed that the fire had been extinguished. By 1105, they had determined that the engine room was safe to enter without the use of breathing apparatus.

The ATSB investigation determined that the fire started inside a screw type air compressor and that the explosion that followed occurred when a cloud of hot oil vapour, which had been expelled from the compressor, ignited.

The investigation found that the compressor did not shut down before the fire occurred because its high temperature alarm/shutdown did not operate. The investigation also found that, during the emergency response, the crew worked as a team and demonstrated how effective a trained response to an unexpected emergency can be.

The investigation identified two safety issues: routine testing of the compressor high temperature alarm/shutdown was not included in the ship's planned maintenance system; and routine testing of the alarm/shutdown was not included in the manufacturer's maintenance manual.

These safety issues have been addressed by the ship's managers and the compressor manufacturer.

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Safety issues

MO-2010-001-SI-01 - MO-2010-001-SI-02 -  

Planned maintenance system alarm/shutdown testing

River Embley’s planned maintenance system did not require routine testing of the compressor high temperature alarm/shutdown.

Safety issue details
Issue number:MO-2010-001-SI-01
Who it affects:All ship owners, operators, managers and engineers
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Manufacturers guidance

The manufacturer’s maintenance manual did not include a requirement for the routine testing of the compressor high temperature alarm/shutdown.

Safety issue details
Issue number:MO-2010-001-SI-02
Who it affects:All machinery and equipment suppliers
Status:Adequately addressed

 
General details
Date: 16 February 2010 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0435 (UTC +10) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Gladstone anchorage  
State: Queensland  
Release date: 25 January 2011 Occurrence category: Incident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Minor 
 
Vessel details
Vessel: River Embley 
Flag: Australia 
IMO: 8018144 
Type of Operation: Dry bulk carrier 
Damage to Vessel: Minor 
Departure point:Weipa, QLD
Destination:Gladstone, QLD
 
 
 
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Last update 21 December 2012