USCG’s Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis issued Marine Safety Alert 07-19 to remind ship owners and operators of closely monitoring aboard the vessels, while in lay-up status. The alert follows a Great Lakes bulker that was laid up for the winter and experienced a fire that resulted to major cosmetic, machinery, and structural damage.
According to the USCG the vessel had no workers on. The fire broke out in the machine shop on the gangway deck, above the lower main engine room space. The investigation found many sources of ignition that may have caused the fire, as propane heaters, electric heaters, and heat lamps were being used in the machinery space. In the meantime, the investigation revealed that the workers during their breaks were warming up into the machine shop and steering gear rooms. As a result, all the machinery of the vessel were turned off.
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In addition, the watchman, who firstly saw the fire, called 911 later that he should, as first the watchman called the hot-work contractor and other contract workers. Local fire departments responded and cooled the vessel’s exterior as well as the exteriors of the vessels docked nearby. The fire departments weren’t able to extinguish the fire due to frozen water hydrants. Therefore, the fire kept burning for 35 hours straight.
In the meantime, in attempts to extinguish the fire resulted to the failure of the vessel’s electrical shore power supply. Also, the bubbling system used to prevent freezing around the machinery space area of the hull failed. The freezing temperature led the piping systems to fail and allowed water to flood the machinery space. Divers managed to secure the flow from the sea chest and halted any additional flood.
Moreover, the USCG has already issued rules for fire protection concerning recreational vessels, consisting of three steps:
- Remove recreational vessel fire extinguishing equipment regulations from 46 CFR subpart 25.30 (Fire Extinguishing Equipment).
- Move all of the fire extinguishing equipment regulations for recreational vessels from 46 CFR subpart 25.30 to 33 CFR part 175, subpart E, and revise the regulations to no longer require recreational vessel owners and operators to follow the monthly visual inspection, annual maintenance, and recordkeeping requirements of NFPA 10.
- Update text in 33 CFR part 175, new subpart E—Fire Protection Equipment.
Concluding, TT Club, an international transport and logistics insurer, launched the Cargo Integrity campaign due to the increase of container ship fires and in favour of the safety of the seafarers, in light of many fire incidents, as the ‘Yantian Express‘, the ‘MSC Flaminia‘, the ‘Maersk Honan‘ and the ‘Grande America‘, which have resulted in casualties and marine pollution.