Malta MSIU report confirms damaged valves in BWTS lead to engine room flooding

The MSIU were notified of the accident on 26 December 2017
The MSIU were notified of the accident on 26 December 2017

Transport Malta’s MSIU has published its investigation report into a serious incident concerning the Maltese-registered capsize bulk carrier ‘Capri’ that arrived at Dampier anchorage, Australia on 22 December 2017. The ballast system’s valves were damaged, causing approximately 1,100 tonnes of seawater flooding the engine room.

The Incident
Capri, a bulk carrier, was scheduled to load 164,000 tonnes of iron ore for China. On December 24, while the vessel was anchored, it deballasted ballast nos 1 and 4 aiming to decrease the number of ballast tanks the vessel would have to deballast, once alongside when loading operations would start.

On December 25, the vessel berthed. Since loading hadn’t start, the chief chose to strip the ballast tanks that had been emptied during the day before. After completing that action, he advised the engine room to line up the ballast system so that deballasting could take place when loading started.

When the loading began on December 26, the chief ordered the engine room to get ready for deballasting operations. This action required the starting of an additional generator. The chief mate then opened the remote suction valves to ballast tanks nos. 2 port and starboard. Soon, a loud bang was heard and the vessel blacked out.

When power was restored, the crew found out a spray of water coming from the ballast pump suction strainer cover that was reaching the electrical distribution panel located close to the strainer. Water was steadily rising in the engine-room bilges. Despite isolating the ballast system, about 1,100 tonnes of sea water flooded into the engine-room.

Probable Cause

The ballast pump strainer cover and a ballast valve appeared to have been damaged when valves to ballast tanks port & starboard nos. 2 were opened. A number of electrical motors, switchboards, cabling, as well as the disabling of the main engine was directly attributed to the ingress of seawater into the engine-room. The vessel was subsequently towed to Singapore where the vessel’s equipment was reinstated.

Actions Taken

The MSIU were notified of the accident on 26 December 2017. Due to the remote location of the port and availability of an expert, the MSIU representative did not attend the vessel until the vessel had arrived at the repair facilities in Singapore.

On January 28, 2018 MSIU representatives visited the vessel and interviewed the crew members. In addition to that, extra information, documentary evidence and an inspection of the site was carried out.

Based on the information already available, the MSIU safety investigation will be focusing on several areas including:
– the cause of the flooding and subsequent black out on board Capri;
– the actions of the crew members on Capri;
– situational factors, decision-making and monitoring during the events leading to the incident.

Read the report in full: Transport-Malta-MV-Capri-Interim-Investigation-Report

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