HMAS Westralia Fire

On May 5th, 1998 a flexible hose (one of a number used to replace rigid hoses) burst releasing diesel fuel and causing a fire in the main machinery space of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship Westralia. The resulting fire caused the deaths of four people onboard.

The enquiry found that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the contractor did not critically examine their course of action and that key personnel in the RAN and the contractor were insufficiently trained and qualified.

There was a belief on the part of the contractor that the subcontractor was a representative of a supplier of flexible hoses, and that the supplier having quality system certification to AS 3902 could be taken to imply appropriate expertise on the part of the subcontractor. While there was no specific requirement on the contractor to perform an analysis of the modification, the enquiry found that they "had a general obligation as the engineering contractor to make a proper engineering assessment" and thus ensure that the operational envelope of the flexible pipes was not exceeded.


The use of unsuitable piping also resulted in the Flixborough cyclohexane explosion.


The coronial investigation