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News release

Associated links (M21A0041)

TSB raises safety concern following investigation into the sinking of the Atlantic Destiny

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 24 January 2024 — Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report (M21A0041) into the sinking of the fishing vessel Atlantic Destiny and issued a safety concern regarding insufficient crew knowledge on how to properly use the carbon dioxide (CO2) fixed fire suppression systems.

On 02 March 2021, with 31 crew on board, the Atlantic Destiny sustained a catastrophic engine failure about 120 nautical miles south of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The shaft generators and associated machinery exploded, causing a fire and damage that led to flooding in the engine room. Everyone was evacuated by search and rescue authorities, and the following day, the Atlantic Destiny sank.

The investigation found that the automatic and manual activation of the engine safety system failed to prevent the engine speed from increasing beyond the design limits of the engine, causing a catastrophic failure and subsequent fire.

The crew used the engine room’s fixed fire suppression system, which releases a heavy blanket of CO2 that displaces air and reduces the oxygen level to a point where combustion cannot occur when the space is properly sealed. However, they re-entered the sealed space on several occasions to investigate the sound of water coming from the engine room and to access the auxiliary generator. These actions re-introduced oxygen into the space, reducing the effectiveness of the suppression system and as a consequence the fire re-ignited.

Although crew members followed documented procedures for use of the CO2 fixed fire suppression system, they were unaware of the need to wait for the space to cool before re-entering.

A lack of understanding of the requirements for using CO2 fixed fire suppression systems has been a factor in several other occurrences in Canada and worldwide. In Canada, the use of fixed fire suppression systems is covered in Marine Emergency Duties (MED) Advanced Firefighting training, which Transport Canada requires for certain certificates of competency. Although the Atlantic Destiny was equipped with a CO2 system, the MED Advanced Firefighting training was not required for the senior deck officers. This meant that they had never been formally trained in the use of CO2 fixed fire suppression systems.

Given several occurrences during which the effectiveness of CO2 was compromised during the fire response, the Board is concerned that there is insufficient crew knowledge of the necessary pre- and post-release stages in the use of CO2 fixed fire suppression systems.

Safety concerns provide a marker to the industry and the regulator that the Board has identified a safety deficiency for which it does not yet have sufficient information to make a recommendation. As more data and analysis become available, and if the safety deficiency is found to be systemic and not redressed, the safety concern may lead to a recommendation. Safety concerns are usually communicated in final investigation reports.

See the investigation page for more information.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376