My ship was in a dry dock in China undergoing extensive repairs as per condition of class .

One afternoon the welding work was in progress on the monkey bridge. The dock fire sentry during the lunch break closed the bridge and kept the key in the Gyro room. He had his lunch and did not open the bridge but went straight to monkey bridge where welding had been started after the break.

After a while he noticed some smoke coming out from the bridge wing.Since the bridge was locked from the inside he could not enter to find out the source of the smoke.He rushed to get the key but was not able to enter the gyro-room either.

Fire alarm was raised and fire tenders from shipyard arrived.The ship's crew mustered.The third officer collected a duplicate key, put on a fireman's suit and opened the bridge. Through the doors the fire tenders fought the fire with water.Due to thick black smoke it was difficult to find the seat of fire. After about 5 minutes the smoke cleared up and we found that the GMDSS, the curtains around it and the GMDSS records had been destroyed. No injuries to personnel.

Since vessel was in dry dock undergoing repairs the dockyard replaced the GMDSS.

Lessons learnt :-
(1) Sentry on duty didnot bother to monitor the area of duty continuously.
(2) He did not ensure that keys remained readily available.
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