Coral Sea Bulker Drifted Dangerously: ATSB Release Findings
In the early hours of 18 May 2012, while transiting the Coral Sea, ID Integrity’s main engine shut down when its fuel pump reversing mechanism came free and jammed. This caused the camshaft to bend and slip in a drive coupling which resulted in the camshaft being out of timing and therefore the engine could not be restarted.
The ship drifted in a westerly direction towards the Australian coast and the Great Barrier Reef. During the afternoon of 19 May, the ship passed over Shark Reef, located about 60 miles east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, without incident. The following day, the ship was taken in tow when it was about 35 miles to the east of the marine park and towed to Cairns for repairs.
What the ATSB found
The ATSB found that the engine manufacturer had identified the need for owners and operators to check the fuel pump reversing mechanism for cracks and secureness and provided this advice in service letters. However, on board ID Integrity, this advice had not been included in the engine manuals or planned maintenance system. As a result, over time and despite regular inspections, the system deteriorated and cracks developed in the mechanism undetected. This led to the failure of a fuel pump reversing link on 18 May.
The investigation also found that, once notified, the actions of the various stakeholders were appropriate and the response arrangements were effective.
What's been done as a result
ID Integrity’s managers have implemented a schedule to inspect all main engines in their fleet and undertake repairs as necessary. Staff from all company ships have been made aware of this incident and it has been included in crew training centre courses.
MAN B&W, the main engine designer, reiterated the need to include all service letter advice in manuals and maintenance systems. They also advised that service letters and updated manuals are always available on request through the website www.mandieselturbo.com via the Nexus (Customer extranet) link.
The ship’s classification society, ClassNK, initiated discussions with MAN B&W to enhance its knowledge of engine design and operation changes. ClassNK also improved the content and extent of information provided to its surveyors.
Service advice from machinery manufacturers needs to be carefully assessed and implemented as necessary as part of a ship’s planned maintenance system. Furthermore, all associated documentation should be updated and regularly checked to ensure it remains relevant and reflects the latest available information.
The full report is available at: http://www.atsb.gov.au/media/4182792/mo-2012-005-final.pdf