Smoke reported on tour boat while underway in Oslofjord; four rescued

A firefighter inspects the exterior of the Norwegian-owned electric tour boat Brim after the vessel was evacuated following reports of smoke in its battery compartment on March 11, 2021. (Photo: Vestfold Intermunicipal Fire Brigade official Facebook page)

Firefighters from the Vestfold region in eastern Norway were requested to render assistance to a passenger vessel after its crew reported smoke spreading on board and triggering an alarm on Thursday, March 11.

Brim, a hybrid-powered sightseeing boat operated by local tour company Brim Explorer, was sailing in the Oslofjord between Sarpsborg and Sandefjord when its crew sent out a distress call at 16:14 local time on Thursday.

All four occupants were safely evacuated while the vessel itself was towed to a quay at a decommissioned oil refinery outside Tønsberg.

The firefighters said there were no open flames on board the vessel though high temperatures were detected in the engine room and the battery compartment.

The smoke on Brim eventually dissipated by Friday, March 12. However, the firefighters said the batteries are likely to have emitted flammable and explosive gases after being exposed to extreme heat, prompting the establishment of a 300-metre exclusion zone around the berthed vessel.

Corvus Energy, which manufactured Brim‘s batteries, said that it has established an emergency board to monitor the situation in addition to deploying a local team to the site within an hour of the distress call being sent to support firefighters, police officials, and the vessel owner.

The company said that as of Monday, March 15, its local representatives were not yet able to board the vessel since all eventual gases have not yet been removed.

Nitrogen will be supplied below the deck of the vessel to prevent ignition while eventual gases will be removed through the ventilation hatch from the engine compartment and into a tank.

Neither nitrogen nor the gases sucked out will pose any danger to the public, Corvus assured.

A technical investigation team has been established to support the process of finding the cause of the incident, added Corvus.

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