Wilde times with Mary

The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has a couple of recent safety bulletins that may affect you, in your job as seagoing engineer.

The one that caught my eye recently, is a Harmonic Filter failure in the propulsion system of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Harmonic Filters, a bank of capacitors, are generally part of any modern Diesel Electric propulsion system, used to stabilize and “clean” the network.

The internal wear was not pick up by sensors design to do just that, leading to internal rise in temp and pressure, which compromised the filter housing, leading to failure. The failure sprayed oil onto 11 kV bus bars, causing what I imagine was a spectacular light show. The whole mess luckily did not result in casualties, but did significant damage to the vessel’s equipment.

Harmonic Filters, a bank of capacitors, are generally part of any modern Diesel Electric propulsion system and the MAIB is urging all mariners who have experienced this type of failure, to contact them.

Another safety bulletin, issued earlier in the year, addressed findings during an investigation into the ferry Oscar Wilde, which suffered and auxiliary space fire. The fire broke out in the fuel preparation unit, and firefighting efforts were infective as the installed high expansion firefighting foam system did not function as designed, despite proper maintenance. The problem was the distribution nozzles were blocked by debris. The MAIB is suggesting several initiatives to the engineer and operator responsible for the safe operation of this system.

You can download the “Queen Mary” Safety Bulletin here, and the “Oscar Wilde” Safety Bulletin here. The MAIB is asking for feedback, in confidence, if you have encountered problems with one or both these systems. You are asked to send them an email at maib@dft.gsi.gov.uk and using the title ‘Foam Systems’ or ‘Capacitor failures’.

Pictures from the MAIB; showing the damaged fuel prep unit from the Oscar Wilde, and a damaged fire door from the Queen Mary.

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