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Westralia tragedy.



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DEFENSE

NEWS RELEASE

DPIO 65/98

 

Tuesday, May 5, 1998

 

WESTRALIA TRAGEDY

 

Four personnel from Royal Australian Navy tanker HMAS WESTRALIA are confirmed dead after a fire onboard the ship today.

 

A fire broke out in the main machinery space near the stern of the ship at around 1100 local WA time and was extinguished at 1235 local time.

 

When it was detected the ships standing firefighting party attacked the fire and conducted a search for engine room personnel. After the firefighting party was driven back by the fire the Commanding Officer, Commander Stuart Dietrich, ordered the activation of the ship’s fixed fire fighting system ‘C02 drench’ which starved the blaze of oxygen.

 

WESTRALIA has been taken in tow to safe waters by a civilian tug.

 

Five sailors treated for minor burns, smoke inhalation and shock onboard by Medical Officers have now been medevaced to St John of God Hospital by Royal Australian Navy helicopter for further treatment.

 

A RAN Critical Incident Stress Management Team have been flown out to counsel the crew onboard the ship.

 

Relatives and friends of WESTRALIA crew members should contact the FIND (Family Information Network Directory) hotline on 1800 020 031 for information,

 

A Board of Inquiry will be convened to investigate the incident and to ascertain the cause of the fire. Names will be released as soon as next of kin have been informed.

 

Further information:

Commodore Geoff Walpole

(02) 9563 4189