Last summer a PANAMAX Container Vessel suffered a major engine room fire while loading a cargo of ammunition at a US East Coast port. The fire resulted in the loss of two lives and caused over $15 million dollars worth of damage to the engine room, main engine casing and propeller shafting. Numerous machinery space platforms, wiring, piping and associated components experienced extensive heat damage. Resulting shipyard repairs kept the vessel out of service for approximately six months.

The vessel's crew performed the initial firefighting response. Shortly afterwards, firefighting personnel associated with the loading facility assisted in and managed the remaining firefighting effort. The fire was declared extinguished in approximately 10 hours during which time nearby waterways were closed.

A USCG one-man formal investigation is currently examining the circumstances surrounding the casualty. The investigation will focus on the origin of the fire, causes of the fatalities, firefighting response, human and equipment performance. Although the investigation is not yet complete, important operational issues regarding the vessel's Ginge-Kerr fixed low pressure CO2 fire extinguishing system have been discovered. This system, model T-AK(X), contains liquid CO2 refrigerated to -17.5 degrees C and is maintained at a pressure of 20.7 kp / cm.

Further detailed information can be viewed on INTERTANKO’s web site at: http://www.intertanko.com/pdf/weeklynews/CO2.pdf

Questions or comments regarding this Safety Alert may be addressed to Mr. Ken Olsen of the USCG Office of Investigations and Analysis at 202.267.1417 or e-mail: kolsen@comdt.uscg.mil .

View other safety alerts, lessons learned and marine casualty reports at the Office of Investigation and Analysis website - http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/moa/casualty.htm

Contact: Howard Snaith, e-mail: howard.snaith@intertanko.com