Air Compressor Accident Kills Crewman

During an operational test on board after a repair/overhaul activity, parts of the air-compressor broke loose. In additions to damage to the compressor, one of the parts from the compressor hit the attending engineer with fatal consequences.

2013.03.22 - Air Compressor Accident Kills Crewman

The most probable cause of the casualty was overpressure due to malfunction of the safety valve for the highpressure stage of the compressor. The air compressor is a single cylinder, two stage single acting and water-cooled, with a working pressure of 30 bar. The investigation found that the air outlet valve from the compressor was in the closed position. The safety valve for the high-pressure side of the compressor was tested shortly after the incident and found to open at about 50-60 bar. It was not known if or when the compressor’s safety valves had last been tested.

The unfortunate event which caused the death of seafarer could have be avoided if:

  1. Prior to putting the compressor into service after maintenance work has been carried out, it is of great importance that associated systems are correctly lined up.
  2. The safety valves of the air compressor are to be periodically function tested according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Such tests should be included in ships’ maintenance systems.
  3. Prior to starting, overhauled machinery and line up of associated systems should be checked by a senior engine officer.

Photo credits: marine insight

Source: DNV


  1. Govind Rana says:

    By this incident ,it seems how disconnected we are in regards to the basic safety and procedures. when the repair works involves shore workshop , the ships staff pay any heed to what is happening to their equipments and total negligence is shown by ships crew. This has been observed by self while attending ships and most dangerous thing of merchant fleet is ” Missing basic seamanship”.
    Higher management onboard has to take special care and proactive thought to avoid such a serious accidents.

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