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but leaving the starboard side exhaust fans running to clear the smoke. At 0811h the bridge team sounded the emergency alarm and passengers were instructed to muster at the emergency stations. With control teams now closed up and teams equipped with breathing apparatus (BA) preparing, the drenchers on vehicle deck 3 were activated to boundary cool the deck above the engine room. With the first BA team ready to enter the

engine room, the watertight door was cracked open at 0816h. Some residual flame was apparent in the starboard aft area of the engine room. The door was then opened and the third engineer and motorman entered and started to direct a fire hose onto the fire. At 0820h the master informed the chief


engineer that he was about to order an ‘in port’ passenger evacuation and asked whether it was safe to disembark passengers and vehicles normally. The chief responded that there were no more flames and the fire was under control. With drencher water pooling on deck 3 and no sign of steam, the master decided a normal disembarkation could take place, and informed the passengers. Once on board the local fire brigade liaised

with the chief engineer and, at 0857h, confirmed the fire was extinguished.

Investigation of events

External damage to Pride of Canterbury was limited to some smoke staining leading from two main engine room ventilator grills on the starboard side of the ship. Internally, damage was mostly limited to

the main engine room, where the fire had been centred above the starboard gearbox. The greatest damage was sustained in the area of the aft bulkhead, deck head, and to equipment situated on deck 2 on the starboard aft side. The reason for the temporary increase in

the starboard main engine load to 100% and corresponding increase in turbocharger revolutions has not been determined, but is not believed to be related to the cause of the fire.

Cause of the fire

The fire was caused by contact from the spray of hydraulic oil onto the hot exhaust uptakes of the starboard main engines. The flanged joint ruptured because the CPP system became over-pressurised as a result of the back pressure safety valve (PSV3) becoming jammed in the closed position. The ruptured flanged joint was in a section of the return line from the oil distribution box



sClassification society sIMO number s


Pride of Canterbury UK

Lloyd’s Register 9007295

Roll-on/roll-off passenger ship

sRegistered owner/manager P&O Ferries sGross tonnage




Type of casualty or incident

sLocation of incident sPlace on board

sInjuries and/or fatalities s

Damage impact

sShip operation sVoyage segment s

29 September 2014 Serious marine

casualty Calais, France

Main engine room None

Extensive fire damage in the area of the

starboard main engines Manoeuvring Arrival

External environment Wind: variable F2-3 Sea state: calm Visibility: good

sPersons on board 450


to the CPP oil service tank. PSV3 was in the same line and was critical to the operation of the CPP system as it maintained the overall system pressure. When this component failed to operate correctly, there were no means within the system to relieve excess pressure. In addition, PSV1, which enabled pressure

to be dissipated into the return line, was set to operate at 145 bar. This was significantly higher than the pressure at which some parts of the system were able to withstand as built. In the case of Pride of Canterbury, these

valves had never been tested or inspected in the 23 years that the ship had been operating.

The watertight door was

cracked open and some residual flame was apparent in the starboard aft of the engine room

In a nutshell

Thus, the key safety issues arising from the MAIB investigation are: s The potential for the whole controllable pitch propeller hydraulic system to experience high

pressure had not been adequately considered; s The method for annually testing the controlla- ble pitch propeller system’s back pressure and

safety relief valves was not specified; s The lack of a high pressure alarm prevented immediate awareness of high pressure in the

system; s An effective joint shield could have prevented

the spray of oil onto the hot engine uptake; and s The storage of combustible materials near the two main engines allowed the fire to spread.

Actions taken

On 13 October 2014 P&O Ferries instructed all chief engineers in the fleet to complete an audit of machinery space fire safety and implement any necessary actions. The scope included: identifying areas of increased risk with regard to oil systems adjacent to hot surfaces and all connections, flanges, that if they were to fail would cause oil to leak; and ensuring category A machinery spaces are free of all combustible materials, e.g. pallets. On 5 December 2014 P&O instructed the

following actions for Pride of Canterbury and its sister ships: replace PSV1 and PSV3 on all CPP hydraulic modules; implement maintenance programme in which at least PSV1, PSV3 and non-return valve 6 (NRV6) are disabled and their function checked once every five years; add a full flow check-valve, with an opening pressure of 10-12 bar, in the return oil circuit by-passing PSV3, the oil cooler and NRV6; and also fit an additional alarm in the control system to give an alarm at 9-10 bar. P&O was also ordered to check all other ships in its fleet.

Photography: MAIB

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