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NTSB: Loose pipe plug led to $3.7 million fire on car carrier

Apr 13, 2018 10:33 AM

Fuel sprayed onto the hot exhaust manifold on Alliance St. Louis and quickly ignited

This NTSB photo shows the fuel pump housing and top cover for the No. 6 cylinder, with the missing pipe plug. The dislodged pipe plug and a new pipe plug are shown at lower right.

Courtesy NTSB

This NTSB photo shows the fuel pump housing and top cover for the No. 6 cylinder, with the missing pipe plug. The dislodged pipe plug and a new pipe plug are shown at lower right.

The following is a marine accident brief from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

(WASHINGTON) — On Jan. 16, 2017, at 0252, the vehicle carrier Alliance St. Louis was under way from Port Arthur, Texas, to Jacksonville, Fla., when a pipe plug on the fuel pump for the main engine’s No. 6 cylinder came loose, resulting in fuel spray onto the engine’s hot exhaust gas pipe manifold. The atomized fuel quickly ignited. The fire was contained to the main engine room and extinguished by the CO2 fixed fire-suppression system. No injuries were reported; property damage exceeded $3.75 million.

Probable cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the engine room fire aboard Alliance St. Louis was improper tightening of a pipe plug on the top cover of the No. 6 cylinder fuel pump housing, which resulted in a high-pressure release of marine gas oil. Contributing to the fire was the improper attachment of a fuel spray shield to the top cover, which allowed fuel to spray directly onto the cylinder’s hot exhaust pipe and ignite.

Click here to read the report.

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