About 1130 local time on December 5, 2018, a fire started within the dry stores locker on board the fishing vessel Jeanette, which was pier side at the American Samoa Government (ASG) container facility in the Port of Pago Pago, Tutuila Island, American Samoa, with 18 crewmembers and one shoreside vessel representative on board. The crew and the local shoreside fire department attempted to extinguish the fire, but with the fire worsening and the vessel's load of fuel, lube oil, and ammonia deemed a hazard to the port, the port authority ordered the vessel to be towed offshore. While under tow and still on fire, the vessel sank about 15 miles south of the island at 1039 on December 6. The estimated property damage exceeded $15 million.
The probable cause of the fire and sinking of the fishing vessel
Jeanette was inadequate crew training and oversight by the company to ensure safe hot work practices were followed on board the vessel. Contributing to the spread and growth of the fire was the lack of a clearly designated person in charge during the response, which resulted in an ineffective firefighting effort by the crew.
Before conducting hot work, it is critical to evaluate work areas for fire hazards to ensure that adequate protection is in place. In addition, crewmembers involved in hot work should be trained to identify possible hazards and take action to remove or mitigate these potential risks to the vessel and crew. The fire watch should not perform any other duties while acting as fire watch and should remain on-site until the area is deemed to be safe,unless relieved by another crewmember.