L’ Boreal Fire, Cape Dolphin, Near Falkland Islands, Compagnie du Ponant Cruises – November 18, 2015 around 0200 local time, L’ Boreal cruise ship owned and operated by the French cruise line company Compagnie du Ponant reported fire in the engine room, put out a distress call with 347 passengers and crew aboard.
Falkland Island Government (FIG) have responded along with British Forces South Atlantic Islands Emergency Services, and HMS Clyde has changed course in order to aid the evacuation operation.
Ninety passengers were air lifted from life rafts, the rest of the passengers and crew were rescued by another ship.
Compagnie du Ponant said in a press release, “As a precaution, all passengers were evacuated from the ship. They will re-embark on L’Austral, who belongs to the Ponant fleet, situated nearby, before being repatriated quickly.”
A French Bureau of Investigation of Marine Events (Bureau d’enquêtes sur les évènements de mer or BEAmer) investigation gave the following information.
“Le Boreal was on an 11 day Antarctic cruise sailing from Ushuaia, called Grande boucle australe (Austral large round trip), allowing the passengers to discover the macro-ecosystems typical of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula. The return trip to Ushuaia passes through Drake’s passage.
During this cruise, 347 persons were on board, 194 of whom passengers of various nationalities, including particularly a group of 90 Chinese (70 are French-speaking and 20 are English-speaking).
At the end of the watch, around 11.20 pm, the hotel officer began a patrol in the engine room. At the end of the patrol, around 11.30 pm, the usual pattern led the latter, after an intervention on equipment located close to the starboard plating (feeling of the boiler feed water tank), forward DG4; the hotel officer observed, looking on the right, that the DG4 duplex filter clogging indicator was red (on 75 to 80% of the sector). An unusual exhaust gas smell was observed as well.
Equipped with a wrench, the hotel officer switched the DG4 duplex filter for the reserve element – the clogged filter was isolated and the clogged filter indicator became white. The hotel officer came to the end of the patrol on the forepart of the DG compartment and walked back up to the engine control room, around 11.35 pm, and filled the engine room logbook with the various recorded parameters.
When the engineer officer taking over the next watch (0.00 to 4.00 am) arrived in the engine control room, the hotel officer reported him the last observations, particularly the intention to replace the clogged filter cartridge and the exhaust gas smell. The officer taking over the watch checked the normal operation of the engine room ventilation. Both contemplated potential leaks at the funnels.
Around 0.10 am, some 40 minutes after the DG4 filter was shifted, the hotel officer, when coming back from the engine control room to perform the replacement operation, presumably misled by a faulty visual memory, began to unscrew the DG3 filter cover which was in use, therefore under pressure.
This confusion is the causal factor of the accident”