Cruise Ship Fire

This incident which was consider minor still provides many good lesson learned, these lesson will help prevent a tragedy in the future. Equipment failure, ship processes, maintenance processes what ever the cause there will be good lessons learned from this minor incident.

The Australian Navy Ship Westralia – Had a major Engine Room fire on the 5 May 1998 resulting in the death of four crew. Westralia is a Navy Supply ship capable of underway replenishment. It was carrying 20,000 tonnes of fuel at the time of the fire. The fire started in the Engine Room when flexible hoses (Fuel lines) failed.  One hose in particular provided fuel to a hot surface (Indicator Cock nearby). This hot surface ignited the fuel and was the source of the fire. The flexible hoses were installed to replace rigid/solid pipes, which had a history of leaking. The Parts failed and people died.

The ‘Lessons learned’ from this are well documented and a simple Google search will provide a source document for further reading. The point MERT Worldwide makes in this post, is there are always lesson learned, it needs to be captured, then recommendation made, and any changes to processes implemented to stop this from happening again. In the case of Westralia, the investigation reached 161 conclusions and made 114 recommendations – LESSON LEARNED from mistakes made.

What are the lesson learned in the case of the RENA, which ran aground of the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, and the Costa Concordia, which ran aground and resulted in deaths?

Will we as mariners see a lessons learned investigation document?  I expect we will once legal action are completed. Lets hope that the circus that surrounds the legal outcomes of the Costa Concordia incident do not mask lesson learned.

Human error or a mistake normally results in a incident whether it is minor and only discussed at local level or it is a major disaster, which will be on every news headline.Those of us in the maritime industry need to see these reports so the industry can learn from these mistakes. Adding, more technology to aid in navigation and reduce groundings has not and will not stop ships running aground we need to prevent mistakes and this starts by providing appropriate level of training.

The Westralia report identifies that people were not adequately skilled. People were in a position to prevent this tragedy if they had the necessary skill sets. The Westralia report stated “On the 5 May 1998 four Royal Australian Navy personnel (crew members) died unnecessarily in a large engine room fire on board HMAS Westralia – Their deaths arose by way of Accident.

RIP fellow mariners (15 years on the 5 May 2013)

MERT Worldwide extends best wishes to surviving family members – Kia Kaha (Stand Strong)


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