Fitzroy Flyer departed Fitzroy Island on a return trip to Cairns, when, 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. Crew members 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 crew members was assumed to be steam. There were no signs of a fire nor any fire damage in the engine compartment,
...said the ATSB in an official statement on the incident.
In this regard, the ATSB has initiated an investigation on the fire, to 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.