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Health and safety

Engine room fire causing serious injuries was linked to poor maintenance, finds MAIB

26 February 2021

A new report by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has identified a single faulty component as the cause of catastrophic engine failure on the DFDS ro-ro cargo vessel Finlandia Seaways in April 2018.

The fault on the Lithuanian-flagged ship caused structural damage to the engine and a fire in the engine room. The vessel’s third engineer, who was on duty in the engine room at the time, suffered serious smoke-related lung, kidney and eye injuries during his escape.

In its investigation, the MAIB found numerous safety issues. The engine’s connecting rods had not been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and defects introduced during component overhauls had not been identified by the ship’s crew or the company’s technical superintendents.

The significance of the damage caused to the connecting rod small ends during overhaul was not fully appreciated, and although it was a Class survey item, Class was not kept informed.

In addition, the third engineer’s injuries were likely to have been exacerbated by the fact that there were no emergency escape breathing devices on the secondary escape route he used.

Since the investigation, a recommendation has been made to MAN Energy Solutions and Lloyd’s Register to provide technical advice to the vessel operator, DFDS Seaways AB-Lithuania, on the actions the company should take to minimise the risk of a similar catastrophic engine failure. Advice should also be given to other operators whose MAN engines might have been subjected to similar maintenance practices.

Further recommendations aimed at addressing the safety issues raised in this report have been made to DFDS and its engine maintenance support contractor Diesel Service Group.