A US Coast Guard investigation regarding an engine room fire on Oceania Cruises’ 30,277gt Insignia at Castries, St Lucia last year has disclosed that the blaze was started by a fuel oil spray igniting when it came into contact with hot exhaust piping or turbocharger components and the engine’s fuel supply line parted.

Although the ship’s extinguishing system automatically activated, and fuel pumps and shut-off valves were secured, the short blaze also ignited bundles of electrical cable, filling the machinery space with smoke. As a result, one crew member and two technicians were unable to escape and died. The USCG has cautioned that machinery spaces can be very complex spaces and steps can be taken to improve the odds of a successful escape. These include learning the locations of available exits and escape routes in all directions. JS

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