Fire in engine room on passenger cruise ship The Calypso

Location: 16 miles south of Beachy Head, England.

Accident Investigation Report 8/2007

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

TheCalypsoReport.pdf (2,089.89 kb)

Annexes (3,943.40 kb)


At 0330 ship’s time on 6 May 2006, the Cypriot registered cruise ship The Calypso suffered an engine room fire while on passage from Tilbury to St. Peter Port, Guernsey, with 708 passengers and crew on board. Initial action by the watchkeeping engineer officer was effective in eventually extinguishing the fire although the vessel lost all but emergency electrical power and was left drifting in the south-west lane of the Dover Straits Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), 16 miles south of Beachy Head. The vessel’s starboard main engine had been very seriously damaged and she was towed to the port of Southampton by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) emergency towing vessel Anglian Monarch.

Safety Issues

  • the fire had been caused by a failed low pressure fuel pipe flange on the starboard Wartsila Vasa32 main engine. The lack of an effective guard allowed fuel to spray onto the adjacent turbocharger and/or exhaust piping causing spontaneous ignition

  • Metallurgical analysis has shown that the two 10mm socket headed flange bolts had failed probably due to fatigue

  • the officer who had attempted to release the CO2, had mistaken timer bottles for pilot cylinders and it subsequently transpired that, unbeknown to anyone on board, no CO2 had been released in the immediate aftermath of the fire

  • the CO2 system was not checked and made secure after the fire, and it had been left in a dangerous condition with distribution and other valves open and all the cylinders still full


Recommendations have been made to the Cyprus and UK maritime administrations to coproduce, and take to IMO, papers regarding the need for clear identification of the controls of fixed CO2 installations, and on improving crew knowledge of how to carry out pre and post use inspection checks of the CO2 system.

This report was published on 19 April 2007.

Published 23 January 2015