Fire in engine room of general cargo vessel Saline

Location: Approaches to the Humber Estuary, England.

Completed PE Summary: Saline

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Saline
Manager Vertom Scheepvaart & Handelmaatschappij B.V
Ship Owner Seabess Limited, Eire
Port of Registry Rotterdam
Flag Netherlands
Classification Society Lloyd’s Register
Type General Cargo
Built 1993
Construction Steel
Length Overall 89.90m
Gross Tonnage 1990
Date/Time 06/02/2009, 0328 (UTC)
Location of Incident Approaches to Humber estuary
Incident Type Fire
Persons Onboard 7
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution Extensive damage to electrical wiring and fittings in engine room


Saline was approaching the Humber estuary when a major fire was detected in her engine room. Humber VTS and the coastguard were promptly notified and a lifeboat, helicopter and the Marine Incident Response Group (MIRG) were activated.

The crew closed the engine room vents and operated the fixed CO2 fire-fighting system. The vessel’s engine stopped and a tug was sent to assist the vessel. Humber VTS monitored the vessel’s position and broadcast regular information to ensure other vessels were kept well clear of the casualty.

Ventilation of the engine room space was resumed 40 minutes after the fire had started. The tug was connected to the vessel about 2 hours later, shortly after which the vessel’s fire team, wearing breathing apparatus and carrying an oxygen meter, entered the engine room. They confirmed that the fire had been extinguished and the atmosphere was safe. It was identified that the fire had been caused by a fracture in a low pressure fuel sensing pipe connection, which had caused fuel to spray onto an unguarded engine exhaust drain cock.

The MIRG specialist fire team later boarded the vessel, entered the engine room, and confirmed that the fire was fully extinguished. The vessel was then given approval to enter port to facilitate repairs to the extensive fire damage. On arrival in port, a detailed inspection of the CO2 system was undertaken, which found that the system had not discharged completely as one of the bottles had been installed incorrectly.

Action taken

The vessel’s manager intends to fit shielding to the exhaust drain cock and to alter the pipe orientation to prevent recurrence.

The Deputy Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to:

  • The ship manager to commend the master and crew on their prompt action to extinguish the fire while pointing out that the resumption of ventilation and re- entry to a space flooded with CO2 should be left for as long as possible and, in this case could have been safely delayed until shore-based fire-fighting specialists were on board.

  • Associated British Ports (Humber) to commend the action taken by VTS in their communications with the vessel and in keeping other vessels informed of the situation.

  • The maintenance company responsible for the last service of the fixed CO2 installation, advising them that one of the bottles had not been installed correctly and requesting that they take appropriate action to prevent recurrence.

Published: February 2009

Published 23 January 2015