NTSB finds faulty wiring likeliest cause of $4m blaze on Great Lakes bulker last year

NTSB finds faulty wiring likeliest cause of $4m blaze on Great Lakes bulker last year

A fire that badly damaged a Great Lakes cargo steamship in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin late last year was probably caused by faulty wiring on the vessel a US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report has found.

The report says that on December 11, 2015 around 5.40pm local time, a fire broke out in the electrical control room for the aft winches of the freighter Alpena while it was in drydock at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding having work done on it.

Workers evacuated the bulker and summoned the fire services. The blaze was extinguished and nobody was hurt but $4m worth of damage was inflicted.

The NTSB report concludes that a fault in the electrical wiring providing power to the aft anchor winch was the likeliest source of ignition as it lacked the extensive circuit protection common to electrical systems on more modern ships.

NTSB reached its conclusion based on investigations by the US Coast Guard (USCG) and the Sturgeon Bay fire department.

Repairs and modifications to the Alpena have included additional circuit protection. The ship resumed sailing this year. It is operated by Inland Lakes Management Inc. Its routes include all five of the Great Lakes and its cargo is usually cement.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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