National assets save sinking ship

National asset high volume pumps, supplied to Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, have been used to save a sinking ship.

On January 3rd, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) was called to a ship taking on water in Alexandra Dock, Hull. On arrival the officer in charge of the incident saw that the engine room of the vessel was almost completely flooded with approximately 300,000 litres of water. The flooding had occurred in just over 30 minutes from the time of discovery which was shortly after 0600hrs. Although the remainder of the ship remained water tight there was a noticeable pitch at the stern.

A high volume pump (HVP) was requested with ejector pumps being utilised whilst awaiting its arrival. During this time the water was held but the source of the leak could not be established. At this stage all persons were accounted for so a decision was made that should Associated British Ports (ABP) wish to continue with the salvage this would become a chargeable special service.

A salvage company contract could not be agreed and pumping continued with ejector pumps but they were having little effect. Due to the pumping distances it was established that the HVP would need to manipulate down into the engine room of the vessel. The National Coordination Centre was routinely informed of the deployment of the HVP. The use of the HVP resulted in over half of the water being pumped out by 1100hrs. Although HFRS was greatly assisted by commercial divers a deeper lift was prevented due to limited access. However, this innovative use of the HVP meant that on-site salvage pumps could be used allowing fire service equipment to be withdrawn.

Area Manager Daryl Oprey from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said: "I would like to praise the efforts of the attending crews and the collaborative approach by ABP and the commercial dive team. They all worked as one to stem the flow of the initial flooding but their effort to get the HVP into position in the engine room was exceptional. Such was the difficulty of the operation that metal rails had to be removed from the ship to allow greater access. As well as demonstrating the ingenuity and resilience of firefighters and officers this incident demonstrated the capacity to which the national assets can and should be applied."

Having ruled out a backflow of ballast water from a failed valve it is thought that the likely cause was the failing of the engine coolant pump which allowed dock water to fill the engine room to dock level. 


Posted January 13th, 2012 at 1045 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: