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Engine room flooding

An incident has been brought to our attention wherein flooding started in the engine room of a ship. This occurred during preparation for cleaning of a sea water inlet filter. Cleats on the filter were released and immediately seawater flooded through the filter. Forty minutes after the filter was opened, the engine room, steering-gear compartment and accommodation had become flooded, resulting in a significant list to port and extensive equipment damage.

Testing proved the correct functioning of the valves on both sides of the sea water inlet filter. Correct valve position markings were visible and correct. Nonetheless, the flooding seemed to be a result of insufficiently closed valves prior to opening of the filter. The underlying causes of the incident were improper planning, inadequate procedures and/or lack of adherence to procedures.

The following lessons learned should be noted:

  • The position of the valves on each side of the sea water inlet filter is crucial. Always ensure valves are closed prior to opening of the filter. If an interruption has occurred, re-check the position of the valves prior to recommencing the work;
  • Remotely operated valves must be secured against unintentional operation, before commencing removal of the filter cover;
  • The procedure for removing or re-tightening the filter cover is important. If cleats are removed from cover hinges in an unplanned sequence, the operator may lose the possibility of re-tightening the cover. Cleats should remain in position until it is safe to remove the cover. Cross-loosen cleats while they rest in hinges. When tightening cleats, follow the same procedure in order to avoid the cover being tightened incorrectly;
  • When cleaning of the filter is completed and cleats are tightened, carefully open valves on each side and check normal operation;
  • The risk of misunderstanding or error can be significantly reduced if filter cleaning is completed by the same person and preferably without any interruptions during work.

Safety Event

Published: 30 November 2005
Download: IMCA SF 11/05

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