The fire that resulted in the third engineer’s serious smoke-related lung, kidney and eye injuries during escape was attributed to substandard maintenance, according to the United Kingdom’s accident investigators.
The Lithuanian-flagged vessel operated by DFDS Seaways was reportedly in transit from Belgium to the United Kingdom, when a serious main engine failure induced a structural damage and fire in the engine room. According to a report by the U.K.’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), a single component’s failure caused the engine’s breakdown. The management and maintenance standards executed by the DFDS’ contractor were a significant causal factor.
Investigators discovered the engine’s connecting rods had not been maintained in accordance to instructions from the engine’s manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions. Defects highlighted during component overhauls were overlooked by both the ship’s crew and the company’s technical superintendents. The significance of the damage caused to the connecting rod small ends during overhaul was not fully appreciated. In addition, the classification society Lloyd’s Register was not notified despite it being a class survey item.
The MAIB said a recommendation was made to MAN Energy Solutions and Lloyd’s Register to provide technical advice to DFDS on the actions MAN should take to minimise the risks of a similar catastrophic engine failure. This applies to any other vessel operators whose MAN engines might have been subjected to similar maintenance practices.
MAIB’s report also revealed there were no emergency escape breathing devices on the secondary escape route used by the third engineer. The branch added further recommendations aimed at addressing the safety issues were made to the vessel operator and its engine maintenance support contractor Diesel Service Group.
The vessel’s engine failure in this instance was caused by improper maintenance from blatant neglect. Such underscores the importance of surveys and maintenance – essential to crew safety and optimum operation. For neglected vessels, it can cause severe monetary implications and unnecessary casualties. Shipowners and charterers can look to Marine Online’s extensive network for marine services at competitive rates.