Main engine failure on oil tanker Thames Fisher

Location: Southampton Water, England.

Completed PE Summary: Thames Fisher

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Thames Fisher
Registered Owner/Manager James Fisher Shipping Services Ltd
Port of Registry Barrow
Flag UK
Type Oil tanker
Built 1997
Classification Society Lloyd’s Register
Construction Steel
Length Overall 91.40m
Breadth Extreme 51.56m
Maximum Draught 6.02m
Gross Tonnage 2706
Date/Time 04/10/2009, 0048
Location of Incident Southampton Water
Incident Type Main engine failure
Persons Onboard 8
Injuries/Fatalities None
Damage/Pollution None


At 0036 on 4 October 2009, Thames Fisher departed Esso’s marine terminal at Fawley after discharging her cargo of petroleum products. She sailed in the ballast condition, and had a pilot on board. As the vessel increased speed to 8 knots, the chief engineer received a high temperature alarm on the main cooling fresh water. He called the master and was informing him of the situation when the main engine shut down on high cooling water temperature. The pilot immediately called for tugs, which arrived in the scene about 20 minutes later. The vessel was taken to a safe anchorage, where the chief engineer found the cause of the problem to be a blocked sea water inlet filter at the fresh water cooler. After cleaning the filter, the vessel continued on her way at 0224. The investigation found that the Thames Fisher had a history of sea water cooling system related failures.

Actions Taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents wrote to James Fisher Shipping Services Ltd, advising the company to:

  • Conduct a detailed technical assessment of the cooling water system arrangement fitted to Thames Fisher and her sister vessels, with the objective of removing the potential for unpredictable blackouts and engine failure.
  • Review the company’s safety management system to ensure that a mechanism exists to detect, and therefore correct, repeated or systematic failures on board its vessels.

James Fisher Shippping Services Ltd:

  • Has undertaken a prompt review of its quality management system.
  • Is replacing the plate strainers in the sea water suction and fresh water cooler inlet filters with basket-type filters, and is installing a by-pass facility to the sea water inlet filter of the fresh water cooler and adjusting alarm settings of the main engine fresh water cooling circuit.

Published: 5 January 2010

Published 23 January 2015