A fire ignited in the engine room of an Australian-chartered Antarctic resupply vessel as it was sailing on its return voyage on Monday, April 5.
The blaze on MPV Everest erupted at around 14:00 local time, engulfing the port engine room and destroying two inflatable rubber boats stored on the deck.
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has assured that none of the 109 expeditioners and crew were injured in the incident.
Charlton Clark, AAD General Manager of Operations and Safety, said the captain of MPV Everest has decided to head for Fremantle as it is the closest port.
The vessel will take about five to seven days in good weather to reach Fremantle some 1,400 nautical miles away, Mr Clark added.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Response Centre is continually monitoring the transit of MPV Everest and is in regular communication with the vessel.
The vessel’s speed was reported to be between eight and 10 knots since it was running only on its starboard engines for the duration of its journey to Fremantle.
The ice-strengthened ship has just completed a two-month voyage to Antarctica, resupplying and changing over personnel at Australia’s Davis and Mawson research stations.
The cause of the port engine room fire will be investigated by the ship’s owner, Luxembourg-based Maritime Construction Services (MCS), and relevant shipping and safety regulators.
Mr Clark said that, as a precautionary measure, the AAD and MCS have identified two potential Western Australia-based support vessels to meet MPV Everest out at sea and escort it to Fremantle.
A decision about which one is most suitable for the Southern Ocean voyage will be made as soon as possible, Mr Clark added.
The AAD said a maintenance issue with MPV Everest‘s starboard generator, which provides propulsion to the vessel, was rectified on Wednesday, April 7. The generator was shut down for an hour so the repairs could be made.
The ship then continued under its own power.
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