As per UK MAIB’s latest Safety Digest a ro-ro cargo ferry experienced flames from the refrigerated unit. While no injuries were reports, significant lessons are to be learned.
roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry (RoPax) was embarking passengers and loading cargo trailers in a port in Northern Europe.
Stevedores towed a refrigerated cargo trailer onto the main vehicle deck and the crew plugged the trailer into the ferry’s power supply to enable the refrigeration unit to run throughout the voyage.
The crew lashed the trailer in place and continued loading cargo.
A few minutes later, a crew member spotted flames and smoke coming from the refrigerated unit on the trailer. He immediately raised the alarm, then disconnected the power supply and tackled the fire with a dry powder fire extinguisher.
The fire was quickly extinguished, with no injuries to crew or damage to the ferry, and the trailer was towed from the vessel onto the quay.
Subsequent investigation found that the trailer’s refrigeration unit had developed an electrical fault that caused the fire.
The shipping company issued a circular to their freight suppliers, advising them to conduct refrigerated trailer annual service and electrical safety checks.
- Action: Rapid response to a small fire prevented it from escalating and minimised the risk of personal injury and damage to the vessel. Ship operators are reminded of the value of training and drills to ensure that their crew are prepared to deal with emergency events.
- Check: Refrigerated trailers are commonly transported on board ro-ro and RoPax ferries. If a unit appears damaged or poorly maintained, the crew should have support from the shipping company to refuse carriage until safety checks have been completed and the unit is declared safe.
- Maintain: Shippers are reminded of the importance of maintaining their refrigeration units in good condition to reduce the risk of damage and fires.