Key points of the fire investigation:
• The fire was ignited and developed from the left side of the gap between a truck and trailer. In that area were a number of potential sources of ignition, and the investigation did not conclusively establish the primary cause of ignition.
• Due to loading conditions on the day of the accident, the fire did not spread to the other vehicles on the car deck.
• The crew succeeded in extinguishing the fire before blackout occurred and water supply for drenchers and fire hydrants was lost.
• The heat-retardant properties of the A-60 division between the vehicle deck and the passenger decks were impaired, as insulation fell from the deckhead when soaked by water during the firefighting.
The fire was brought under control, but the vessel’s power supply system had failed, and the vessel itself ended up drifting towards the Swedish island of Fårö.
Firefighters from shore had been deployed to assist the crew, and rescue boats and helicopters were on standby in the area.
In the early evening, it was decided that families with children and elderly people were to be evacuated. The remaining passengers were to stay on board for as long as possible, as this was deemed safer than boarding the ship’s lifeboats and rafts.
At 19:00 local time, the evacuation of passengers by helicopter was commenced. While the helicopter transfers were ongoing, the ship’s crew managed to restore propulsion and steering, and the ship was able to return to Nynäshamn under its own power.
The subsequent DMAIB investigation revealed that the fire originated in a lorry on one of the vehicle decks and that the resulting blaze damaged some of the vessel’s electrical cables. This then caused the power supply failure and a complete blackout, and the vessel later went adrift.
The investigation showed that the damaged electrical cables lacked fire protection and redundancy.
Also, the emergency procedures and decision support systems on Stena Scandica were standardised documents that target different emergency scenarios on a general level and relied on the emergency systems being in working order. The DMAIB said such standardised documents cannot cover all possible permutations of events and scenarios, and therefore often fall short in dynamic emergency situations and become less useful for the crew when making critical decisions.
The DMAIB said that shipowner Stena Rederi implemented a number of preventive measures following the fire on Stena Scandica. These include:
- Identifying critical infrastructure such as cabling and applying fire-resistant compound over the cables running through the cargo space on the vessel’s deck four
- Improvement of the CCTV camera system on the vehicle decks
- Upgrade of fire detection system and incorporation of a drencher zone indication
- Regular drencher pipe thickness measurements
- Update of the decision support system
Read the full investigation report below: