SAFETY ALERT – FUEL AND EXHAUST SYSTEM MAINTENANCE

On 1 August 2002 the US Coast Guard’s Office of Investigations and Analysis issued a Safety Alert concerning a major engine room fire which occurred in a 35,000 DWT product tanker in the Atlantic Ocean.

The vessel was equipped with two vee-type, 14 cylinder, reversing, 7000 hp, turbocharged, medium speed, four stroke diesel engines capable of using multiple fuels.

 

Along the top centre of the engines within the "vee" formed by the cylinder heads, all the exhaust pipes should be encased in an insulated casing or shrouding. Investigators discovered numerous disconnections of the casing, fallen sections and a general absence of insulation throughout the system. None of the short sections that connect to each cylinder head, nor any of the ells near the turbocharger end of the engine were covered with insulation. According to engine manufacturer schematics, every connection at the cylinder heads should have been both wrapped with insulation and covered with shields. None of the 28 connections on both engines were covered.

The United States Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners, operators, superintendents, port engineers, shipboard engineers and crewmembers of vessels having similar equipment ensure the proper maintenance and repair of fuel and exhaust systems associated with main propulsion and diesel driven auxiliaries onboard their vessels.

To reduce the risk of fatalities, injuries, environmental damage and severe economic loss, diesel engines of all types and their associated systems should be maintained as designed unless appropriate personnel have authorized modifications.

The insulation of potential fuel oil ignition sources and the use of specialized fasteners and other devices to reduce the loosening of critical engine and systems components is essential for long term safe operations.

 

A full report can be viewed here.