Diesel spray caused a fire in the ship’s engine room

Starboard side of the Miss Dorothy during firefighting efforts from the Good Samaritan tug Christopher Wilson.

Western Rivers Boat Management via NTSB

The tug Miss Dorothy was pushing 14 barges down the Mississippi River north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 17, 2021, when a fire broke out in the engine room.

All eight crew on board briefly attempted to fight the fire, but were unsuccessful and evacuated. No pollution or injuries were reported. The vessel was declared a total loss at $2.4 million.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded its investigation into the incident on Tuesday. The NTSB found that the engine room fire was caused by pulverized diesel fuel hitting an uninsulated section of the engine’s exhaust system.

Starboard main <a class=engine before (left) and after (right) the fire, with the uninsulated section of the exhaust manifold shown.”/>Starboard main engine before (left) and after (right) the fire, with the uninsulated section of the exhaust manifold shown.WRBM over NTSB

Shortly after midnight on the evening of the fire, alarms began to sound in the wheelhouse and throughout the vessel. The pilot saw smoke that was “rising in intensity very rapidly” and flames coming from the starboard main engine in the engine room.

The crew attempted to use fire hoses and portable extinguishers to fight the fire. A short time later, the chief engineer operated the ventilation stop and pulled the fuel oil emergency shut-off from the fuel tank which supplied the starboard main engine.

However, air continued to be drawn in through open engine room doors and open or broken windows, and the shut-off valve remained open because the shut-off did not work as expected.

The fire continued to grow despite the efforts of the crew. The captain ordered the crew to abandon ship, and the crew were rescued by a vessel from the Good Samaritan, which then secured the tow against the shore. The fire was extinguished several hours later by first responders and crew aboard the vessel Good Samaritan.

Tugboat regulations state that “Piping and machinery components that exceed 220°C (428°F), including fittings, flanges, valves, exhaust manifolds and turbochargers, must be insulated .”

Investigators found that the exhaust manifold leading from the individual cylinder heads to the Miss Dorothy’s exhaust manifold—which was subjected to temperatures above 428°F (often above 600°F)—near the suspected origin of the fire was not isolated.

Starboard main engine after the fire with a section of fuel oil supply and return lines removed (left).  Lab image of flange and oil return line unbrazed and separated (right).Starboard main engine after the fire with a section of fuel oil supply and return lines removed (left). Lab image of unbrazed and separated flange and fuel oil return line
(law).
NTSB

NTSB investigators have concluded that it is likely that the uninsulated exhaust manifold acted as an ignition point for the atomized or atomized diesel fuel.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the engine room fire was ignition of diesel fuel spraying from a main engine fuel system onto an uninsulated section of the engine’s exhaust system. motor.

The inability to effectively provide space ventilation and fuel to the affected engine contributed to the severity of the fire and damage to the vessel.

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