Marine safety investigations & reports

Suspected engine room fire and passenger evacuation involving domestic commercial vessel Fitzroy Flyer, 13km ENE of Cairns, Queensland on 29 March 2019

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress
Phase: Final report: Internal review Read more information on this investigation phase


The ATSB is investigating the suspected engine room fire and passenger evacuation involving domestic commercial vessel Fitzroy Flyer, 7 NM (13 km) east-north-east of Cairns, Queensland on 29 March 2019.

Fitzroy Flyer departed Fitzroy Island on a return trip to Cairns with four crew and 37 passengers on board. At about 1410, the vessel’s master noticed the port main engine was over heating and reduced the engine throttle to idle. Shortly after, a fire alarm activated in the engine compartment. Crewmembers investigated and reported a suspected fire. Crewmembers then attempted to extinguish the fire using CO2 and dry powder, however, they could not confirm their actions were successful.

All passengers were then mustered and the master advised the port authority of the situation. He then radioed for assistance from nearby vessels in Mission Bay, about 7 NM from Cairns.

At about 1450, the port engine was shut down and the fire suppression system was released. By 1600, all passengers had been evacuated to two vessels. At 1615, the master started the starboard engine and resumed the voyage to Cairns at slow speed. By 1710, the vessel had been safely berthed without further incident.

Following an on board inspection, the port engine cooling water header tank was found empty and the smoke sighted by crewmembers was assumed to be steam. There were no signs of a fire nor any fire damage in the engine compartment.

The investigation will focus on the on board response, emergency procedures and passenger management.

The ships crewmembers will be interview and evidence collection is underway.

A final report will be released at the end of the investigation.

General details
Date: 29 March 2019   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 1410 AEST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 7 NM ENE of Cairns   Investigation phase: Final report: Internal review  
State: Queensland    
  Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 1st Quarter 2020    

Vessel details

Vessel details
Operator Fitzroy Island Investments  
Vessel Fitzroy Flyer  
Flag Australia  
IMO 3504QC  
Sector Passenger  
Type of operation Domestic commercial vessel, Class 1, Operational area D  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Fitzroy Island, Queensland  
Destination Cairns, Queensland  
Last update 15 November 2019