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SHIP TYPE: Liquidfied Gas Carrier SIZE(GRT): 31000 BUILT YEAR: 1971

Bursting of starting air compressor

Course of events
A starting air compressor bursted during running test, throwing pieces of steel all over the engine room.
Extent of damage
The compressor itself was beyond repairs.
Two persons were injured, one of them seriously.
Probable cause
Subsequent investigation showed that some tubes on the high pressure side Air Cooler had fractured. This increased the pressure in the water chamber which
cools the high and low pressure cylinders. (The coolers and the cooling water chamber are interconnected). The working pressure of the starting air system is
30 bar whilst the working pressure is about 4 bar for the water chamber.
The water chamber was protected against over pressure by a bursting disk which can sustain a pressure of 6 bar. The bursting disk had, however, been
replaced by a metal sheet, which would burst at a higher pressure than 6 bar.
This caused collapse of the compressor casing, in way of the cooling water chamber around the high pressure cylinder.
Lessons to be learned

Always use manufaturer's approved spare parts

It is always a good practice to be cautious during such test and stay away or be shielded from the potentially dangerous pressurised

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