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Accident Report Detail

Fire aboard Roll-on/Roll-off Passenger Vessel Caribbean Fantasy Atlantic Ocean, 2 Miles Northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Executive Summary

​About 0725 on August 17, 2016, a fire broke out in the main engine room of the roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) passenger vessel Caribbean Fantasy when fuel spraying from a leaking flange came in contact with a hot surface on the port main propulsion engine. The fire could not be contained, so the master ordered the ship to be abandoned. US Coast Guard and other first responder vessels and aircraft, along with good Samaritan vessels, helped transport all 511 passengers and crew to the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Several injuries, none life-threatening, occurred during firefighting and abandonment efforts. The burning vessel drifted in the wind and grounded on the sandy bottom outside the port. Three days later, the vessel was towed into the harbor, where shore-based firefighters extinguished the last of the fire. The accident resulted in an estimated $20 million in damage to the Caribbean Fantasy, which was eventually scrapped in lieu of repairs.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire aboard the roll-on/roll-off passenger vessel Caribbean Fantasy was Baja Ferries’ poor safety culture and ineffective implementation of their safety management system on board the vessel, where poor maintenance practices led to an uncontained fuel spray from a blank flange at the end of the port main engine fuel supply line onto the hot exhaust manifold of the engine. Contributing to the rapid spread of the fire were fuel and lube oil quick-closing valves that were intentionally blocked open, fixed firefighting systems that were ineffective, and a structural fire boundary that failed. Contributing to the fire and the prolonged abandonment effort was the failure of the Panama Maritime Authority and the recognized organization, RINA Services, to ensure Baja Ferries’ safety management system was functional.

Accident Location: San Juan , PR USA  
Accident Date: 8/17/2016
Accident ID: DCA16FM052

Date Adopted: 6/5/2018
NTSB Number: MAR1801
NTIS Number: PB2018-101068