The three crew on board the fishing boat, Ardent II, managed to escape the fire after one crew member smelt burning plastic and saw black smoke on his way to the bathroom

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is urging all fishing boat owners to carry out regular inspections of electronic equipment after a fire on board the Ardent II.

The blaze is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault or failure of a multi-socket adapter in the crew mess room on the trawler.

The fire started at around 5am, while three crew were asleep on board.

An investigation by the MAIB found there was no smoke detector in the crew mess.

The crew were only alerted to the fire when one of the fisherman went to the bathroom and smelt burning plastic and saw black smoke.

All of them managed to escape without injury.

It took more than 24 hours to put out the fire and, consequently, the boat was extensively damaged.

It was eventually declared a constructive total loss.

Fire damage to the Ardent II

The damage caused in the crew mess. Credit: MAIB

The incident took place on 16 August 2016 at Peterhead harbour in Scotland.

The MAIB report stated that the Ardent II had returned from fishing and had moored in Peterhead.

The vessel’s machinery was shut down and shore power was connected, enabling three of the crew to live on board while the vessel was in port.

Ardent II was due to be inspected before putting to sea again, so various work had been carried out on board the trawler by contractors, including the night before the fire.

“By 2345, all three crew were in bed, with the engineer still working in the engine room. He finished work and went home at approximately 0230, locking the door from the wheelhouse onto the upper deck as he left. All other doors and hatches were secured from the inside to prevent intruders,” said the MAIB.

” At about 0515, one of the crew exited the accommodation and entered the crew mess room on his way to the toilet/washroom. He immediately became aware of the presence of black smoke and a smell of burning plastic.”

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“He alerted the other two crew, who then exited the accommodation into the crew mess room, unfastened the watertight door and passed through the doorway into the aft net drum space and then onto the quay,” stated the MAIB.

“The crewman who had raised the alarm entered the wheelhouse, opened the wheelhouse door window, unlocked the padlock using a key from his pocket, opened the door, and passed onto the upper deck and then onto the quay. ”

The three men alerted the crew of a nearby fishing boat, and the emergency services were contacted.

The first fire engine arrived on the scene at 5.46am and firefighters continued to tackle the blaze until the following day.

By then, the trawler was declared a constructive total loss.

The MAIB has now issued a safety flyer to the fishing industry.

It warns boat owners that “unless electrical equipment is regularly visually inspected for bare wires, that appropriate fuses are in place, and for signs of burning, together with regular Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), the risk of an electrical fire occurring is increased”.

It also states that “without a comprehensive fire detection and alarm system that covers all spaces that pose a risk, fishing vessel crew, particularly those sleeping on board, cannot be confident of being alerted early enough to be able to take effective action”.