Escape of steam/hot water from pipeline on passenger cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 with 1 person injured and loss of 1 life

Location: Mid Atlantic.

Accident Investigation Report 17/2003

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

qe2-fatality.pdf (646.34 kb)


While on passage from New York to Southampton, two engine room crew on board the passenger cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) were badly scalded on 23 June 2002, when boiling water suddenly discharged from a pipeline. One of the men subsequently died as a result of his injuries, the other was left seriously hurt.

Safety Issues

  • a major factor which instigated and continued the process that led to the sudden discharge of steam and water, injury, and loss of life, was the leakage across the isolating valve
  • condensate in the steam pipelines produced on shutdown and start-up could not be removed to prevent the possibility of water hammer and catastrophic failure of pipelines and valves
  • LRS Rules, SOLAS, and United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Regulations, were not adhered to, in that the steam plant installations could not be drained efficiently


Recommendations have been made to the vessel’s owner, Cunard Line, and to the International Association of Classification Societies, regarding the provision of adequate drainage arrangements for steam pipelines to this, and future, steam systems. Additional recommendations have been made to Cunard Line to ensure that safety issues are fully recognised and addressed both by management ashore and also by engineers on board its vessels.

This report was published in July 2003.

Published 23 January 2015