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What happened

On the morning of 9 October 2014, a fire started in Ocean Drover’s crew accommodation while the livestock carrier was berthed in Fremantle, Western Australia. The fire quickly spread across both accommodation decks. The ship’s crew and shore emergency response teams responded and fire-fighting efforts continued for the rest of the day.

By the time the fire was extinguished late that evening, the ship’s accommodation areas and its navigation bridge had been extensively damaged. Four of the ship’s crew sustained injuries that required medical treatment.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the fire started in a centrally located forward cabin on Ocean Drover’s upper deck. The intensity of the fire and the severity of the damage made it impossible to identify an exact point of origin or source of the fire.

The ATSB investigation found that the cabin door was left open after the fire was discovered allowing smoke and flame to spread beyond the cabin. Further, the bridge deck stairwell fire door was hooked open, which allowed the fire to rapidly spread and engulf both the upper and bridge decks.

The investigation also identified that the ship’s crew did not complete a muster and accurate head count when responding to the fire.

While cigarette smoking was not identified as a contributing factor, it was found that the smoking policy and associated risk controls on board were not effectively managed.

What's been done as a result

Ocean Drover underwent extensive post-fire repairs before it could return to service. During the repair period, the ship’s managers took pro-active safety action to avoid a similar incident in the future. All cabins in the ship’s accommodation were fitted with smoke detectors. The bridge deck stairwell fire door was replaced with one that is not fitted with a hold back arrangement (to comply with mandatory regulations). Notices posted on both sides of the door require it to be kept closed.

The ship’s managers have revised the shipboard smoking policy and restricted smoking to designated rooms, which exclude crew cabins. Designated smoking rooms are provided with safety ashtrays and sand bins, and warning signs have been posted in accommodation areas. The managers promulgated the lessons learned from the fire and safety action taken across the fleet through procedural changes and safety meetings.

Safety message

Containing a shipboard fire in the compartment where it originates is critical to firefighting. Effective containment relies on maintaining the integrity of fire divisions, including bulkheads, decks and doors. In this regard, particular attention must be paid to ensuring fire doors, designed to limit or prevent the spread of fire, are never latched/lashed open, or otherwise compromised.

 

 

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The occurrence

Context

Safety analysis

Findings

 
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Preliminary report released 7 January 2015

What happened

On the morning of 9 October 2014, a fire started in Ocean Drover’s crew accommodation while the livestock carrier was berthed in Fremantle and preparing to load cargo. The fire quickly spread and the ship’s crew and a number of the port’s emergency response teams fought to control it for the rest of the day. Four of the ship’s crew sustained smoke inhalation requiring medical treatment; one being hospitalised for smoke inhalation and burns.

By the time the fire was extinguished the following day, the accommodation areas and the ship’s navigation bridge had been extensively damaged.

What the ATSB has found so far

Initial analysis by the ATSB and the Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) indicates that the fire started in one of the central forward cabins on the upper deck. The fire quickly spread and engulfed both the upper deck and the bridge deck above.

Investigation direction

The investigation is ongoing and will focus on:

  • the circumstances and mechanisms of the fire initiation and spread
  • the operation and efficacy of the ship’s fire detection, protection and extinguishing systems
  • crew training and shipboard emergency response.
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Safety issues

MO-2014-012-SI-01 - MO-2014-012-SI-02 -  

Bridge deck stairwell fire door

Ocean Drover’s bridge deck stairwell fire door was fitted with a holdback hook in contravention of international regulations. The door was hooked open, which allowed the fire to spread to the bridge deck from the deck below. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:MO-2014-012-SI-01
Who it affects:All persons responsible for shipboard operations
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Smoking risk controls

The smoking policy and associated risk controls on board Ocean Drover were not effectively managed. While use of designated smoking rooms was identified as the preferred option, smoking was permitted in cabins. In addition, approved ashtrays were not always used to extinguish and dispose of cigarettes.

Safety issue details
Issue number:MO-2014-012-SI-02
Who it affects:All persons responsible for shipboard operations
Status:Adequately addressed

 
General details
Date: 09 October 2014 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0750 AWST (UTC +8 hours) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Fremantle  
State: Western Australia  
Release date: 11 March 2016 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Serious 
 
Vessel details
Operator: Wellard Ships, Singapore 
Vessel: Ocean Drover 
Flag: Singapore 
IMO: 9232852 
Sector: Other 
Type of Operation: Berthed 
Damage to Vessel: Substantial 
Departure point:Fremantle, WA
 
 
 
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Last update 11 March 2016