USCG Report Surrounding the Engine Room Fire On Board the M/V SSG EDWARD A. CARTER, JR.

In May 2002, the Department of Transportation awarded marine engineer, John Sullivan the United States Coast Guard, Certificate of Merit for his involvement investigating the engine room fire on the M/V SSG EDWARD A CARTER JR.

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Download Full Report in “Details” Section of this Page


On July 14, 2001 a fire started on board the container ship SSG EDWARD A. CARTER, JR while the vessel was moored in Southport, NC. At the time of the fire, the vessel was loaded with approximately 5 million pounds of Class 1 explosive cargoes in support of Military Sealift Command operations. Eighteen of the vessel’s crew were on board when the fire started.

The fire developed quickly and spread intense flame, heat, and smoke throughout the aft levels of the engine room. One of the crew members made an initial attempt to fight the fire in the vicinity of the point of origin with a portable fire extinguisher, but was unsuccessful. The ship’s crew was unsuccessful in controlling the fire and failed in their two attempts to activate the low-pressure carbon dioxide system protecting the engine room space.

Two crewmembers died and total damage to the ship was estimated to be $15 million. After the explosive cargo was offloaded, the ship was dead-ship towed to Norfolk, VA to make repairs.

John Sullivan was awarded the Certificate of Merit for his involvement in the formal investigation. Mr. Sullivan was the first person on the investigation team to determine that the fixed firefighting system had not discharged, and assisted in determining why the firefighting system failed to operate correctly. His involvement prevented similar failures on eleven sister vessels.