Fire in pump room on standby vessel Viking Victor resulting in vessel sinking

Location: Off Aberdeen, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Viking Victor

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Viking Victor
Registered Owner/Manager Blue Viking Ltd
Port of Registry Montrose
Flag UK
Type Standby vessel
Built 1969
Classification Society Norske Veritas
Construction Steel
Length Overall 44.4m
Gross Tonnage 536
Date/Time 16/09/2004, 1602
Location of Incident Scottish coastal waters
Incident Type Fire
Persons Onboard 12 crew
Injuries/Fatalities 3 injured
Damage/Pollution Ship lost


During the routine crew change the opportunity was taken to embark 28 drums of 25 litres of hydraulic oil. On sailing, half the drums were stowed in the hydraulic pump space through which the main engine and port generator exhausts passed. The stacked drums were loosely jammed in place by plywood sheeting.

It was normal practice to leave doors and hatches open throughout the ship to improve ventilation. During the afternoon, smoke was seen to be pouring out of the engine room door and fire was discovered in the hydraulic pump room, above the engine room through the open engine room escape hatch. The crew tackled the fire and believed that they had extinguished it. Unfortunately it re-ignited and quickly spread through the open doors and hatches. It became clear that the fire could not be contained and the crew were safely evacuated by helicopter later that day.

The vessel was eventually taken under tow. The fire damaged pipe work allowing water to enter the vessel and she sank some 36 hours later.

The investigation concluded that the fire started as a result of hydraulic oil leaking onto the hot engine exhausts in the hydraulic pump space and igniting.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents wrote to the vessel’s owners and managers recommending that they:

  • issue instructions on the stowage of flammable materials in funnel spaces and other areas that constitute a risk of ignition, and of the need to carry out risk assessments when determining suitable stowages.

  • provide guidance on the need to keep doors and hatches closed to prevent the spread of fire smoke and floodwater

  • bring to the attention of crews the importance of making prompt isolations of engine room systems in the event of an engine room fire

  • specify the mandatory use of the general alarm to alert the crew of an incident

Published 23 January 2015