On the morning of 2 April 2007, the bulk carrier Shirane was off Newcastle, New South Wales.
The ship’s third engineer had been assigned the task of replacing the auxiliary boiler burner with a clean spare unit. When he had finished the job, he attempted to fire the burner to check its operation but it failed to ignite. A few moments later, at 1013, while he was removing the burner to inspect it, there was an explosion (flashback) from the boiler furnace.
The third engineer ran into engine control room and, as it was clear to the chief engineer and the first engineer that he had been burned, he was taken to the ship’s hospital for first aid treatment.
The master was informed and, shortly after 1015, he telephoned the ship’s agent in Newcastle and requested a medical evacuation.
After purging the boiler furnace for about an hour, the chief engineer and the second engineer removed the burner to inspect it. A few moments later, there was another flashback from the boiler furnace. The chief engineer, the second engineer and a fitter were burned by the flashback.
The flashback had also caused a small fire on the deck, which was quickly extinguished. The three men then went to the ship’s hospital for first aid treatment.
By 1324, a rescue helicopter had evacuated the second engineer, the third engineer and the fitter from the ship and, at 1729, it returned for the chief engineer.
As a result of the investigation, the boiler manufacturer and the ship’s management company have taken a number of safety actions. The ATSB has also issued three safety advisory notices to address the safety issues identified.
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