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Accident Report Detail

Marine Accident Brief: Engine Room Fire aboard Towing Vessel J.W. Herron

Executive Summary

​About 1340 local time on December 13, 2017, the towing vessel J.W. Herron was shifting barges on Big Bayou Canot near Twelvemile Island, approximately 8 miles north of Mobile, Alabama, when a fire began in the lower engine room and quickly spread. After the crew of three partially secured the engines and fuel supply, heavy smoke and fire prevented them from attempting to extinguish the fire, forcing an immediate evacuation of the vessel to the barges. No pollution or injuries were reported. The estimated damage to the vessel was $1.5 million.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the engine room fire aboard the towing vessel J.W. Herron was leaking lube oil from a propulsion diesel engine hose or tubing fitting that was ignited off an exposed hot engine surface or slipping clutch. Contributing to the severity of the fire was the location of the emergency engine shutdowns and fuel supply shutoffs near the exterior engine room doors, which proved to be inaccessible. Contributing to the spread of the fire was the inability to secure ventilation to the engine room.

Accident Location: Mobile , AL USA Big Bayou Canot, Twelvemile Island; 30°47.46’ N, 087°59.55’ W
Accident Date: 12/13/2017
Accident ID: DCA18FM008

Date Adopted: 12/20/2018
NTSB Number: MAB1828
NTIS Number:  

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