DMAIB: Collapse of Containers Caused Fire aboard EUGEN MÆRSK

The Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board (DMAIB) has released a report on the fire on board the Danish flagged container ship EUGEN MÆRSK that occurred on 18 June 2013.

The Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board carries out investigations with a view to preventing accidents and promoting initiatives that will enhance safety at sea. The investigations of the Board procure information about the actual circumstances of accidents and clarify the sequence of events and reasons leading to these accidents. The investigations are carried out separate from the criminal investigation. The criminal and/or liability aspects of accidents are not considered.

DMAIB Investigates Causes of Fire aboard EUGEN MÆRSK1

On the morning of 18 June 2013, the crew on the EUGEN MÆRSK discovered a container fire on the aft cargo deck. At the time the ship was in the Gulf of Aden, underway from Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In the days leading up to the fire, the ship had passed some rough weather resulting in substantial damage to cargo containers and their lashings.

The crew commenced the firefighting effort and managed to contain the fire. The vessel was allowed to enter the Port of Djibouti where they received assistance from local firefighters and Dutch salvage experts. The fire was extinguished on 23 June 2013.

No persons were injured in the fire. There was no pollution and only limited damage to the ship’s structure. A total of 16 cargo containers were damaged or destroyed.

Investigations into the causes and origin of the fire have revealed two likely main scenarios :

1) The fire started as a result of friction heat created by the collapse of the container stacks. This ignited the contents of the containers and the fire developed from there.

2) The fire was initiated at an early stage, perhaps even before the containers were loaded on board. After having slowly smouldered for a long time, the collapse of the containers created a sudden burst of oxygen which made the fire flare up and develop. In both scenarios the collapse of containers is considered a major contributing factor to the fire.

The DMAIB’s main focus in this investigation has been the significance of learning from managing adverse situations, organizational flexibility and adaptability, and the challenges ship crews face when dealing with their everyday tasks.

Read the report

DMAIB, April 21, 2014

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