On 25 August 1994, mv Sally Star, a Bahamian registered Ro-Ro passenger ferry was en route to Ramsgate from Dunkirk and in a position about 6.5 miles east of Ramsgate when fire broke out in the main engine-room. The fire was caused by the failure of a bolted flange joint on the low pressure fuel system of No 4 main engine, allowing flammable fuel oil vapour to come into contact with part of the engine exhaust system. Initial attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, mainly due to failure of the auxiliary generators and the emergency fire pump and despite the injection of halon gas into the space. However, closure of the engine-room ventilation and fuel oil systems effectively starved the fire of fuel and oxygen. The fire was finally reported as extinguished about three hours from the onset of the emergency.
the failure of covers serving the engine mounted components of the low pressure fuel system to contain the discharge of fuel oil from the failed flange
the failure of the auxiliary generators, leading to the loss of two of the vessel’s fire pumps
the failure of the emergency fire pump, due to the loss of power from the Emergency Switchboard
the loss of halon extinguishing gas due to leakage past main engine-room ventilation flaps and access hatch
the general alarm could not be rung continuously without attendance
As a result of findings of the investigation a number of recommendations have been made which include matters concerning the early warning of oil fuel vapour leakage in machinery spaces and more stringent requirements for low pressure fuel systems of medium speed diesel engines.