A bulk carrier experienced an electrical blackout resulting in loss of propulsion and steering. The vessel subsequently ran aground1. The electrical blackout occurred because the auxiliary diesel generator shut down after the cooling water temperature controller malfunctioned, resulting in overheated cooling water.
The investigation concluded the vessel had been sailing with an emergency generator that was unserviceable and would not operate as required. When the blackout occurred, the generator started but shut down shortly after, due to overheating. The radiator fan belt had failed several months prior but had not been replaced. The operator did not have adequate procedures to ensure that critical spares were identified, and their inventory level maintained, to guarantee availability when required on board.
The operator should have ensured that systems, machinery, and equipment, critical to the continued safe operation of the vessel, are thoroughly understood, maintained, and tested. This reduces the likelihood of an emergency event relating to these items developing and provide a defence against adverse outcomes, should such a situation arise.