Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lessons Learned—A Research Vessel’s Destructive Fire—Part 1

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Ms. Daisy R. Khalifa, technical writer.

Lessons learned from USCG casualty reports are regularly featured in Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine. These articles explore marine incidents and the causal factors, outline the subsequent U.S. Coast Guard marine casualty investigations, and describe the lessons learned as a result.

It is important to note that lives were lost in some of the marine casualties we present. Out of respect for the deceased, their families, and surviving crewmembers, we do not mention the name of any person involved.

In August 2006 the M/V Odyssea Voyager was heading back to port after a day’s work with research divers when the chief engineer, smelling smoke, opened the door to a storage room located directly above the bow thruster room and discovered flames on the port bulkhead.

He tried to extinguish the flames, but the fire soon engulfed the main deck. As heat, smoke, and flames spread through the vessel’s main and upper deck, all aboard abandoned the vessel in lifeboats and were retrieved by U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pelican.

Two crewmembers suffered minor injuries, but fortunately there were no deaths as a result of the casualty.

Intense Fire
Because of the potentially explosive divers’ tanks, chemicals, and loaded fuel tanks, authorities did not actively fight the fire aboard the vessel. Coast Guard authorities and firefighters monitored the vessel fire for more than 24 hours after those aboard were evacuated. Even two days later, when authorities could finally board the vessel, one section was still hot, with small flames burning.

The vessel, which was salvaged for inspection, was a total constructive loss.

In part II, we will examine the cause of the fire.

For more information:
Full article is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/spring2010.

Subscribe online at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/subscribe.asp.