NTSB Report on Fire on Fishing Vessel Nobska

by | Apr 18, 2022 | Maritime Law

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its report on the April 30, 2021 fire that broke out in the engine room on board the fishing vessel Nobska.  During the incident, the boat was ground fishing in Georges Bank, east of Cape Cod.  After the fire broke out, it engulfed the vessel and the fishermen were forced to abandon ship.  A Coast Guard helicopter was able to rescue the fishermen.

The NTSB’s report documents the probable cause of the fire:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the fire aboard the fishing vessel Nobska was a failure of a hydraulic hose within the engine room that allowed hydraulic fluid to spray onto a hot surface, likely the exposed main engine exhaust pipe. Contributing to the failure of the hydraulic hose was possible heat damage from a fire that occurred earlier in the day.

The NTSB also stressed the importance of structural fire protection on boats:

The pipe/hose tunnel on board the Nobska, which extended from the engine room up two decks to the wheelhouse, did not have any insulation, pipe/cable fire stops, or other barriers to prevent the passage of smoke, heat, and fire—known as structural fire protection. This type of unprotected vertical tunnel has the potential to provide a pathway for a fire to spread quickly outside of the space of origination. Vessel owners and operators should identify such openings between decks and ensure they are structurally fire protected to prevent the spread of a fire.

The incident shows the importance of proper equipment on a boat.  Regulations require vessels to have certain equipment and be configured in a specific manner in order to prevent incidents like this from ever occurring.   It can be dangerous to work in any industry when safety considerations are not taken seriously.  This is especially so when working on a large ship. Safe maritime companies must ensure that their ships do not put the lives of their crew members at risk.  Safe maritime companies must be proactive and take preventative measures, including regular maintenance and repairs, as well as ensuring its crew members are adequately trained.

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