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The medium voltage direct current (MVDC) shipboard power system (SPS) will heavily rely on new and relatively unproven technology. With a lack of benchmark systems, the need to understand failures and their effects is vital for efficient fault identification, location and accommodation. For this, accurate fault diagnosis that could help better-informed decision making will be required. Thus, it is imperative that research be conducted that enables risk mitigation aboard the notional warship. The aims of the research presented in this paper are to understand basic failure causes and effects, to aid the development of a shipboard automated diagnostic system, through failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).