‘The first engineer is saying cabin 230 is on fire’
19:09:00 to 19:28:07
Someone knocks on the bridge door and says that there is a fire in the garage.
Crew: “OK we tell the captain I was calling on the sailor but he is not answering.”
Crew:“Is this smoke in the engine?”
Crew:“I do not know.”
Captain: “Send for Captain Massoud quickly. What smoke what is it?“
Crew: “There is a black smoke that might be coming from the engineroom.”
Captain: “Engine room? Where is the chief engineer? Call the engine room quickly.”
The first reaction of the master and the crew is to locate the fire – on the sixth and seventh decks of the ferry and to tackle it with hoses and sprinklers.
Crew:“The fire is in the garage captain.”
Captain: “Can someone have a look quickly. Go quickly with fire hoses to the garage.”
Crew:“And also the sprinklers.”
Captain: “And the sprinklers too. Wake up the chief engineer and the first quickly. I need the sprinkler quickly.”
When another vessel is heard in the background, the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 master reveals his reluctance to admit any problem and ask for assistance.
A voice of another ship on the VHF
Captain: “Turn the lights of the bridge off because of the ships around us. I
want someone to be responsible for the bridge.”
By 19:28:07 the fire has spread to cabin 400 although the crew believes the hoses are ‘working, working’.
19:30:10 to 19:49:23
Less than half an hour later other cabins are affected and panic is beginning to set in amongst the passengers as smoke pours out of the port side of the vessel. A crewmember tries to calm down a passenger as another ship can be heard in the background.
A voice of another ship on the VHF
Officer addressing passengers: “Get back please. It’s over, the fire is over, get back.”
Early on, the captain begins to realise the danger of pumping the vehicle decks full of seawater, heightening the risk of the free surface effect responsible for the sinking of similar ro-ro vessels. Concern is also building regarding the ability to drain the water out of the lower decks and the inability to locate the exact location of the fire.
Captain: “But tell him that they must suck the water from the garage. OK, first someone take care of the water in the garage we don’t want it to reach high levels and send the plumper to fix the drains.”
Crew: “Water level is getting high.”
Crew: “I already told the first eng. And he is sending someone to the garage.”
Crew: “Someone with a mask go to check the left side may be this smoke is coming from somewhere else.”
Crew: “Yes. First engineer, what is wrong with cabin 230?”
First engineer: “It is on fire.”
Crew: “The first engineer is saying cabin 230 is on fire.”
19:49:26 to 20:10:39
By this stage a team around 10 crewmembers are fighting the fire and the master has not ordered the waking of all the crew.
20:12:17 to 20:31:54
The fears about the build up of water on the car decks mount as cars block the drains, the water level rises and the ferry begins to list. Crewmembers raise the idea of calling for help but there is no answer from the master who remains preoccupied with the fire.
Crew: “OK, OK — the first engineer sent the plumber to fix the drains.”
Crew: “First engineer, please tell Youssef to fix the drains on the right side by any mean the listing is increasing.”
Crew: “Yes, engine room, we need Youssef the plumber to go and fix the drains on the right side in the garage.”
Crew: “The drains are blocked the cars are parked over it.”
Crew: “Tell him to fix any drains that he can reach.”
One of the officers on the bridge:“Shall we inform the vessels around us captain?”
No answer from the captain
The fire begins to spread to other cabins and a decision is taken to limit the sprinklers in the car deck, to reduce the increasing list of the vessel.
‘Captain, there is smoke from everywhere’
20:33:21 to 20:53:02
– “How many degrees is the list now?“
Crew: “Six degrees captain.”
20:54:16 to 21:14:07
The master is asked whether to make contact with nearby ships and to ask for assistance, but declines. In the belief that the fire is under control, he elects instead to make contact with someone at the company.
Captain to someone on the bridge: “Yes, I know, but I do not want to confuse the vessels around us, you understand, then they will start asking us if there is something and I do not want anyone to ask us.”
Crew: “Captain Sayed, what is the situation?”
Captain: “There is only smoke and I am working on it.”
Crew: “Ok, OK good.”
Captain: “Is there fire or only smoke, first engineer?”
First engineer:“Only smoke.”
Captain:“Good, good. There is a lot of smoke coming from the chimney.”
Somebody on the bridge: “Yes captain there is smoke from everywhere.
Captain: “I want you to call Captain Mamdouh Oraby on his mobile and tell him that we had a fire and it spread in the garage and we are fighting it till now and that the master is busy with the fire fighting and that we will keep him updated and this is just for his information.”
Two hours of a raging fire have taken its toll on the electrics, limiting communications.
Crew: “When the pumps stopped number 24 stopped also and the telephone is on number 24.”
The list increases to 7 degrees and a request is made to stop the sprinklers and contact the port captain in Egypt.
Crew: “Shall we inform Duba port captain?”
Captain: “No, we are far.”
Crew: “Captain Massoud, shall we stop the spray garage or you still need it?”
Captain: “OK, try to be sure and let us know immediately, because the water level inside the ship is increasing a lot and will also become very dangerous.
There is no way that the telephone can work?”
Crew: “No captain, the telephone the pump and the GPS is out of order.”
Crew: “The trailer on the left side is still on fire.”
As the list increases, a decision is made to shore up the vessel’s stability.
Crew: “The list is increasing a lot captain.”
Captain: “Yes, that’s why I am calling the first engineer. I want him to take
the water from the right side and through it to the left.”
Crew: “No captain it will go right again.”
Captain: “Ok through it to the sea.”
With drainage showing no signs of improvement and the electrics badly affected, the chief engineer asks for permission to send out an SOS but again the captain does not respond.
Del LLoyds List, transcripción de la caja negra del Salam Al Boccaccio 98