Many will remember the fire at the Allied Shipyard in Larose on April 16, 2020. There was $900,000 in damage to the dive support boat Iron Maiden, but luckily there were no injuries. Now the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded its investigation and issued a report on May 4.
According to Marine Accident Brief 21/11, the fire aboard the ship started and spread with no alarms because workers deactivated the fire detection devices during repairs. Despite the shutdown of these devices, no one was monitoring the ship for fire.
The damage was most severe in the generator room, with the fire likely starting near the bulkhead. This was the location of the battery charger, alarm panel, and the generator start-stop panel. The investigators listed an electrical short in one of the above components as the cause of the fire ignition, but they could not be more specific in their analysis. The reason given for the unarmed alarm system was that fire and smoke caused by the work aboard the ship would have triggered false alarms. There was no policy for crew members or shipyard personnel to conduct safety rounds after hours.
The report stated:
“Fire and flooding are risks for both crewed and unattended vessels. To protect personnel, property, and the environment, it is good marine practice for owners, operators, and shipyard managers to coordinate and implement some form of continuous monitoring for vessels undergoing maintenance in a shipyard, in lay-up, or in some other inactive period without regular crews aboard. Continuous monitoring can consist of scheduled security rounds and/or active monitoring with sensing and alarm systems.”
Everyone who works aboard boats, platforms and marine vessels understands that the work is dangerous. That danger does not come to an end when the vessel returns to port. Owners and crews got lucky this time, but the fire is a clear reminder that safety protocols are needed to work in this hazardous environment.