A BULKER ran aground in a channel while leaving Dampier when it lost steering due to “a total electrical blackout”, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.

The Panama-flagged Bulk India grounded in March 2018.

The ATSB found the ship lost all steering control and propulsion shortly after the main engine was increased to “full ahead”, the ship’s auxiliary diesel generator engines shut down after the cooling water temperature controller failed, resulting in overheated cooling water. 

In addition, when the ship’s emergency generator started in response to the blackout, it also shut down from overheating as a radiator fan belt that had failed several months earlier had not been replaced.

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“The ATSB investigation found that the ship’s engineers did not immediately identify the problem and were unable to manually operate the cooling water temperature control valve in time to prevent the blackout,” said ATSB director transport safety Stuart Macleod.

“The investigation also found that while the problems in the engine room started about 13 minutes before the blackout, the two pilots on board were not informed of the situation.”

Rio Tinto have also revised escort towage arrangements for ships departing their facilities in Dampier following simulation exercises and a review of existing risk assessments.

A full version of the report is available here.

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