Power Barge Fire & Explosion


A fire and explosion occurred at a power plant in Central America.  The barge-mounted power plant consisted of two permanently moored barges with diesel generators sets installed in a shed structure on deck.  The fire and explosion occurred on one barge; however, both barges sustained damage.  One barge was deemed a total loss and there was a dispute as to the extent of damages on the second barge.  The claim was that both barges were a total loss.

Services Provided

Rimkus Consulting Group mobilized a team of experts including:

  • A naval architect/marine engineer with extensive experience in marine regulatory requirements and vessel repair standards.
  • A mechanical engineer with broad experience in diesel driven power generation plants. 
  • A metallurgist with experience in evaluating fire damaged steel structures as well as laboratory examination of failed piping components.

The Rimkus team made several inspections of the barges, met with the plant operators, assessed the damage, reviewed the reports and repair estimates of the operator’s experts, and conducted a microscopic examination of failed piping components.

Based on our analysis, we concluded the following:

  • That fire-related hull steel damage to the second barge was limited to a small section of the port sheer strake as opposed to the whole port sheer strake and portions of the main deck as claimed. 
  • As a result of this conclusion, it was determined that this barge could be repaired in situ resulting in significantly less cost and out of service time.
  • Significantly less machinery damage than reported was found onboard the second barge.  Based on internal examination as well as laboratory oil analysis, it was concluded that none of the engines on the second barge sustained fire-related internal damage.
  • A metallurgic examination of the failed fuel oil piping section which was believed to be the origin of the fire revealed that the pipe failed as a result of cyclic fatigue.  It was further determined that the pipe in question was of an earlier design which had not been updated based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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