Insufficient risk assessment by the ship designers!


In the MARS report for the month of March, there is an interesting topic regarding a, unfortunately small fire in the engine room on board a tanker.

The tanker was equipped with hydraulic deepwell pumps and after discharge port it was planned to carry out some maintenance on the system. Due to either wrong procedure, no procedure or not following the procedure, the line was not drained which created a residual pressure in the line, which made a flange connection to leak. Normally this would not have been any dangerous situation, but since the service/header tank was located above the main engine, fine spray of hydraulic oil was falling over the main engine, which created the fire.

This is not a unique accident, it has happened before. The interesting thing is how the architects can design a ship in this way, placing a hydraulic tank above the main engine. Last time I came across this type of accident, I was the reliever for the Chief Officer going home on board a chemical tanker. That fire did not stop at “small”. The whole engine room were burned out, including the lower decks in the¬†accommodation. On top of the material damages personal injuries were present as well.

One of the root causes is for sure that the ship designers have not done their home work, to assess the risk of placing a service/header tank containing hydraulic oil right above the main engine.


Read about this in the MARS report for February 2013.


MARS Report No. 245 March 2013