Following the Boreal’s November 17, 2015 engine room fire, French maritime authorities have recently released an incident report concerning the Ponant vessel.
The fire was due to a clogged fuel filter element, which was disassembled under pressure by a crewmember and thus started leaking fuel.
A fire broke out immediately around third diesel generator’s “turboblower” and rapidly spread, via cabling, to the upper decks of the engine room.
According to the report, the midnight engine room fire spread quickly, leaving the ship dead in the water without propulsion – but with emergency backup power. The water-mist fire extinguishing system triggered automatically, but was not strong enough to prevent the fire from spreading along bunched cables.
The crew had the fire under control shortly after, but the powerplant was out of commission. With the vessel drifting towards the coast, the captain made the decision to drop anchor and evacuate passengers and almost all crewmembers with the support of the Royal Navy and sister ship L’Austral, which was in the area at the time.
The ship was on an 11-day Antarctica cruise at the time, with 347 people onboard, including 194 passengers of which there was a group of 90 Chinese.