Listing of crew boat due to water ingress

What happened?

During her first voyage after drydocking, a crew boat started to list.  A bilge alarm signal was received on the bridge, informing that there was water inside starboard side void space #1.  Following this, starboard side void space #1 was checked and it was confirmed that there was water present.  At the same time the Chief Engineer inspected the void space and observed that the main discharge non-return valve was not installed improperly, and its gasket was not properly sealed.  The other drain valve, placed between the forepeak and void space #1, was not installed at all and found lying nearby.  The automatic bilge pump, which should have started immediately after the alarm was raised, had not started.

The portable fire pump was used to pump the space clear.  At this point the vessel was listing heavily owing to some 2 cubic meters of water in the void space.

What went wrong?

  • The crew boat had been in drydock before this voyage; important matters were not noticed before the vessel was launched:
    • the non-return valve gasket in starboard side void space #1 was damaged
    • the valve in the bulkhead between starboard forepeak and starboard side void space #1, was not installed;
  • The bilge alarm signal was only a flashing light and not an audible sound alarm;
  • The automatic bilge pump, which should have started immediately after the alarm was raised, had not started because the control button on the panel was in the manual position, which prevented the system from starting.

What were the causes?

There was no post-drydock maintenance inspection or dedicated testing to ensure that everything done in drydock was done properly and completely.

What actions were taken?  What lessons were learned?

  • Developed a pre-sail checklist of all and any critical equipment or systems (bilge systems, fire detection systems, alarms, navigation systems, propulsion and steering systems) to be checked as being in working condition before departure;
  • Ensure equipment maintained, repaired or installed during drydock is physically checked and verified as working correctly.