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Hull and machinery incident
Engine breakdown

The casualty described below is a good example of the importance of well-trained seafarers.

The vessel in question was equipped with four engines (of approximately 4,000 kw each) and with a diesel electric propulsion system.

When the breakdown occurred all four engines were running as normal on HFO 380 cst., and nothing unusual was noticed. Without any warning, one cylinder in one of the engines exploded. As a result, the piston rod came out of the crankcase door which again caused damage to the oil module, and a fire broke out.

Damaged crankhouse door with broken bearings.
Broken piston rod.

Crankshaft and access for cylinder liner.
View of engines after fire.

Suddenly a serious situation had developed, but due to the quick reaction of the crew the HI-FOG system was activated and after 15-20 minutes the situation was brought under control and further damage was avoided. The cause of the explosion is not yet clear, the incident still being under investigation.

There is reason to believe that reduced, or lack of, oil cooling to the actual piston has caused the breakdown.

So far the investigation has shown that the piston crown in the actual cylinder split from the piston shirt, which resulted in the crankcase explosion and fire in engine room.

The explosion caused extensive damage to the engine, which led to the complete renewal of the engine block, crankshaft, piston, bearings, etc., and renewal of many electrical cables and other equipment.

No personal injuries arose from the incident, but there was significant mechanical damage that caused the vessel to stay at a shipyard for a long period, during which she was off-hire.

Lesson learned
Quick reaction from the crew and repeated fire drills ensured that more serious damage was prevented.


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Gard News is published quarterly by Gard Services AS, Arendal, Norway.