Inadvertant release of carbon dioxide in heavy weather and subsequent disabling of ro-ro vehicle carrier Figaro

Location: Near Wolf Rock off Land's End, Cornwall, England.

Accident Investigation Report 14/2008

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

FigaroReport.pdf (2,161.55 kb)

Annexes (1,490.08 kb)


Figaro was preparing to pass through the Traffic Separation Scheme between Lands End and the Isles of Scilly with a cargo of vehicles on 6 December 2007. The weather was poor and the sea was the roughest that the vessel had encountered for some weeks. At 1629, Figaro landed heavily in the swell, causing the vessel to shudder. At the same time, CO2 gas from the fire smothering system was released into the engine room and three of the four cargo zones. Crew in the affected compartments were able to escape without injury, but the CO2 gas caused the main engine and auxiliary generator to shut down.

Safety Issues

The investigation identified that the maintenance instructions for the CO2 system were contradictory and vulnerable to misinterpretation. The crew of Figaro were unfamiliar with the equipment and were unable to recognise the problem that occurred during the routine test, or realise the risk posed by leaving the system in an unstable condition. The incident also highlighted some areas where ETV procedures could be improved to help maintain the successful reputation that this service has gained.


In view of the actions taken by the managers of Figaro and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), following the incident, no further recommendations have been made as a result of this investigation.

This report was published on 14 August 2008.

Updates to this page

Published 23 January 2015