Simple Failures Render CO2 System Inoperative

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Photo courtesy USCG

The following U.S. Coast Guard safety alert addresses concerns discovered during an ongoing marine casualty investigation and may be of interest to ship builders, classification societies, owner / operators and others involved with vessel operations.

A machinery space fire onboard a relatively new vessel was effectively responded to and extinguished by the vessel’s quick response team firefighters using portable extinguishing equipment. However, before it was declared completely extinguished and approximately five hours after the fire started, the master of the vessel made the decision to release CO2 from the vessel’s fixed firefighting system. It failed to operate as designed. Subsequently, crewmembers were unable to activate it manually and CO2 was never directed into the machinery space.

The following issues pertaining to the CO2 system were discovered:
• Numerous piping and hose connections leaked extensively. When the system was activated, on scene video taken by the firefighters showed numerous leakages into the CO2 room. Post casualty, while pressure was still on the system, some of these leaks continued even after the connections were tightened.
• The zone valve for the aft machinery space which admits CO2 from the bottle bank manifold to the space failed. Specifically, the ball valve’s opening actuating arm fell off the valve when the gas powered piston actuator attempted to move it. The ball valve actuating arm was held in place by a very small machine screw and washer. When firefighters attempted to open the valve manually using the provided hardware it could not be moved. The valve was only able to be moved after the gas pressure was relieved from the inlet side of the valve.
• Actuating arms to five of the six other zone valves were found loose. They were also attached by
small machine screws.
• Hemp type pipe sealant was used extensively on pipe threads throughout the system and in some instances seems to have entered the system.
• Certain elements of the distribution manifold contained low points which allowed the accumulation of water within piping that could not be drained. Such a circumstance could cause corrosion that could possibly negatively effect operation of other components.
• The CO2 system’s pilot and co-pilot bottles did not appear to operate correctly according to the firefighters involved and thus had to be manually activated using the valve handles located on top of the cylinders. Additionally, during the event, the bank bottles were similarly activated due to the uncertainty of their release. At least one pilot bottle activation hose was reported to have leaked.
• The system had been recently serviced and inspected by an authorized service provider. Because of these and other issues, the United States Coast Guard strongly recommends that vessel builders / shipyards, classification societies, insurers, owners / operators, system service personnel, and others involved with these systems:
• Carefully and critically review, routinely inspect and maintain, verify and test their Fixed Fire Fighting installations to ensure that they will operate correctly during an emergency.

Developed by the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarter’s Office of Investigations and Analysis, Washington,
DC. Questions may be addressed to HQS-PF-fldr-G-PCA@uscg.mil.

Maritime Reporter March 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Coast Guard

USNS Spearhead Delivers Materials to Ghana Charities

The U.S. Navy’s joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) delivered wheelchairs and medical supplies to Ghanaian non-governmental organizations March 26, 2015.

USCG Flush Ice down River Systems to Facilitate Shipping

The Coast Guard cutter fleet is flushing ice through the Great Lakes river systems to prevent ice jams and facilitate commercial shipping as the shipping season

Mediterranean Rescue Operations Strain Shipping

The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday describing how the increasing number of seaborne migrants making the journey from Africa to Europe has not only

Maritime Safety

Obangame Express 2015 Concludes in the Gulf of Guinea

Maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, and the United States and several regional and international organizations concluded the multinational maritime exercise,

Vietnam's Submarines to Counter China?

Vietnam's new submarines could alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically, say maritime security analysts.   Vietnam and China have long contested

Is China Building a Naval Base in Africa?

Recently, The Namibian reported the existence of a "confidential letter from Namibia's ambassador to China, Ringo Abed, to Namibia's foreign minister stating that

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1828 sec (5 req/sec)