Electrocution on Stena Germanica Ferry: Deadly Electrical Faults Revealed

Swedish investigation highlights risks and recommends preventive measures in maritime maintenance


Swedish investigators have revised their initial assessment regarding the death of an engineer aboard the Stena Germanica, a 51,837 gross tonnage ferry traversing Scandinavia. Originally deemed to be from natural causes, the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority has now concluded that the engineer likely succumbed to electrocution. This determination follows a newly disclosed report indicating potential faults in the vessel’s electrical installation dating back to its inception, which might have remained undetected due to their non-impact on operational systems.

The incident in question transpired on June 27, 2022, while the Stena Germanica was in transit. The engineer was discovered unconscious adjacent to a ballast pump within the engine room, ostensibly investigating a water leak. Despite attempts at resuscitation, the engineer’s demise was attributed to cardiac arrest, initially presumed as natural.

Subsequent events shed light on the underlying cause. On July 14, a second engineer, also investigating a water leak near the same ballast pump, received a severe electrical shock. Prompted by this occurrence, Stena promptly engaged an electrical company to inspect the vessel’s electrical infrastructure, concurrently notifying authorities of the possibility of an electrical accident in the prior fatality.

Investigative findings unveiled multiple anomalies contributing to the electrocution risk. A missing gasket and the absence of protective grounding mechanisms on the solenoid valve were identified. Moreover, alterations in the incoming cables perpetually energized the component during pump operation, evading detection by conventional fault monitoring systems due to its external isolation. Consequently, no error indications were recorded as the valve functioned nominally.

The authority’s report postulates that both engineers inadvertently encountered electrified components while investigating the water leak, resulting in electrocution. Recommendations emphasize the imperative of stringent adherence to electrical safety protocols aboard maritime vessels. It advocates restricting electrical maintenance tasks to personnel possessing requisite expertise in both electrical systems and maritime operations.

Additionally, the report advocates for enhanced crew training on emergency response protocols, advocating for expedited response times to alarms and the establishment of protocols for immediate consultation with onshore medical resources in instances of electrical accidents.

In conclusion, the incident underscores the criticality of meticulous electrical maintenance practices onboard ships and underscores the imperative for continuous vigilance in identifying and mitigating electrocution hazards within maritime environments.

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