mpv everest fire investigation

MPV Everest. Note the location of the port engine room exhaust casing above deck. Source: Australian Antarctic Division/Maritime Construction Services, annotated by the ATSB

Australia Issues Preliminary Report on MPV Everest Fire During Antarctic Resupply Mission

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 4161
May 20, 2021

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released a preliminary report from its ongoing investigation into last month’s fire on board the MPV Everest during a resupply mission to Antarctica.

The ship, which was on charter to Australian Antarctic Division at the time, was on passage from Mawson station in East Antarctica to Hobart – a 3,300 NM distance – when large flames erupted from the exhaust casing for the ship’s port engine room.

The ship at the time was located about 1,075 NM north-east of Mawson station with 109 people on board, comprising 37 crew and 72 expedition staff. There were no injuries to anyone on board.

Overview of MPV Everest’s area of operation and position at the time of the fire. Source: Australian Antarctic Division, modified and annotated by the ATSB

“The ship was making good 11 knots, with power for propulsion being provided by three of the ship’s six engines – numbers 2 and 3 in the port engine room and number 6 in the starboard (the ship’s two engine rooms each contained two 5,760 kW and one 1,920 kW marine diesel engines),” according to the ATSB’s news release on the report.

“Shortly before 1100, the ship’s master saw large flames erupting from open louvres in the port engine room’s exhaust casing. In response the master raised the alarm and instructed crew and expedition staff to report to their emergency muster positions,” the ATSB.

Flames from the port engine room exhaust casing. Photo: Jason Mawbey via ATSB

The preliminary report notes that during initial inspections of the fire-damaged engine room, the crew observed fuel oil dripping down into it from within the exhaust vent casing above. Recorded data from the ship’s integrated automation system (IAS) showed a routine transfer to top-up the fuel oil settling tank in the port engine room was started at about 0925 on the morning of the fire, indicating the tank probably overflowed sometime after 1030, according to the report. The port fuel oil settling tank’s air vent pipes terminate inside the port engine exhaust casing.

MPV Everest was able to resume passage under its owner at about 1820 after propulsion was restored with two engines in the starboard engine room (with the port engine room and machinery unusable). The following day, the ship’s master diverted MPV Everest to Fremantle, where it arrived on April 13.

“The ATSB’s investigation will continue to examine the origin and cause of the fire and its development, and the operation of the ship’s fuel oil transfer system, including pumps, piping, alarms and automation,” said ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood.

“Other areas of investigation include the performance of the ship’s firefighting equipment, the effectiveness of the ship’s emergency response, and the efficacy of shipboard communication systems,” he added.

The preliminary report does not include any safety findings or analysis, which will be detailed in the investigation’s final report to be released at the conclusion of the ATSB’s investigation.

“However, should a critical safety issue be identified at any stage during the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” Hood said.

The ATSB’s preliminary report, Engine room fire on board MPV Everest, Southern Ocean, 5 April 2021, can be found here.

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