On April 30, 2021, about 1810 local time, a fire erupted aboard the fishing vessel Nobska while the five member crew was ground fishing in Georges Bank, about 80 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The fire started in the engine room and quickly engulfed the vessel. When attempts to extinguish the fire proved unsuccessful, the crew prepared to abandon ship and activated the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). A US Coast Guard helicopter rescued the crew from the stern of the fishing vessel. Neither injury nor pollution was reported. The Nobska, valued at an estimated $2.4 million, was declared a total constructive loss.
We determined 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.
Structural Fire Protection
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.