On November 10, 2021, about 0015, the fishing vessel Blue Dragon was under way in the North Pacific Ocean, 350 miles offshore of Monterey, California, engaged in longline fishing operations, when the vessel caught fire. The Blue Dragon’s six crewmembers and a National Marine Fisheries Service observer attempted to fight the fire but were unsuccessful. They abandoned the Blue Dragon and were rescued by a Good Samaritan vessel. The Blue Dragon was later towed to San Pedro, California. No pollution or injuries were reported. Damage to the vessel was estimated at over $500,000.
We determines that the probable cause of the fire aboard the fishing vessel Blue Dragon was from an unknown source, likely electrical in nature, which ignited the wooden wheelhouse console. Contributing to the extent of the fire damage was the substantial use of combustible materials in the joinery, outfitting, and furnishings in the wheelhouse and accommodation spaces.
Substandard electrical installation and outfitting—including bare wires, unsecured wire nuts, overloaded circuits, loose wiring, and household wiring not designed for marine use—is a common cause of electrical fires. Additionally, batteries have been identified as ignition sources of fires in multiple modes of transportation. Vessel operators should ensure electrical systems are adequately designed, installed, and maintained in accordance with established marine standards to prevent fires.
Personal Locator Beacons and Satellite Emergency Notification Devices
In this casualty, personal locator beacons (PLBs) helped validate the position of the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and a satellite emergency notification device (SEND) helped responders identify the nature of the emergency. Vessel owners and operators can enhance the safety of their crews by equipping their vessels and crews with these additional satellite technologies to supplement EPIRBs.