Unintentional release of carbon dioxide from fixed fire-extinguishing systems on ro-ro vessels Eddystone and Red Eagle

Locations: The southern Red Sea and The Solent, England.

Accident Investigation Report 16/2018

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned, actions taken and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 16-2018: Eddystone and Red Eagle

Annexes to MAIB investigation report 16-2018: Eddystone and Red Eagle

Red Eagle and Eddystone composite image


On 8 June 2016, the roll on, roll off (ro-ro) vessel Eddystone experienced an unintentional release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from its fixed fire-extinguishing system while in the Red Sea. A similar incident took place on 17 July 2017 on board the ro-ro passenger ferry Red Eagle while on passage from the Isle of Wight to Southampton. In both cases, gas leaked into the CO2 cylinder compartment, but was prevented from entering the engine room by the main distribution valve which remained closed. Fortunately, no one was harmed in either of these incidents. However, the unintended release of CO2 from fire-extinguishing systems has caused 72 deaths and 145 injuries, mainly in the marine industry, between 1975 and 2000.

Safety lessons

  • the maintenance of the fire-extinguishing systems was inadequate

  • the available guidance for the marine industry on the maintenance and inspection of CO2 fixed fire-extinguishing systems was insufficient


Recommendations have been made to:

  • the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (2018/123 and 2018/124) to ensure that all safety devices fitted to CO2 fixed fire-extinguishing systems are maintained and surveyed appropriately; and, to seek clarification from the International Maritime Organization of the maximum permitted periodicity between hydrostatic testing of individual high pressure cylinders (MSC.1/Circ.1318)

  • Det Norske Veritas – Germanischer Lloyd and Lloyd’s Register (2018/125), to raise with the International Association of Classification Societies the issue of the quality of service provided by approved service suppliers in the maintenance of CO2 fixed fire-extinguishing systems

  • the owners of Red Eagle (2018/126), to review the design of the CO2 fire-extinguishing systems fitted to their vessels where the leakage of a single cylinder valve causes the entire system to discharge

MCA Safety Bulletin No. 12 - Accidental CO2 releases onboard 2 UK Merchant Vessels

Published 12 September 2018