Inadequate fire notifications at issue in fishing vessel loss in Tacoma, Washington

The factory trawler Kodiak Enterprise, which suffered an onboard fire while at Tacoma, Washington, on April 8, 2023
Kodiak Enterprise (Photo: Trident Seafoods)

A vessel fire that burned for s​ix days last year in Tacoma, Washington, began in the dry stores room, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The factory trawler Kodiak Enterprise was docked at a Trident Seafoods facility in Tacoma when the fire erupted on April 8, 2023​. Four crewmembers, who were living on board during the scheduled overhaul, emerged uninjured.

The vessel was declared a total loss of US$56.6 million.

​A deckhand from a nearby vessel first saw the fire and reported it to a Trident security guard. The guard then called a Trident official, who then alerted the sleeping crew.

Kodiak Enterprise had a fire detection and notification system designed to send an alarm by text or email when set for in-port operation. However, the system did not send a notification the night of the fire.

Investigators determined the vessel’s inadequate fire detection and notification system—which was not designed to sound in crew accommodation spaces and failed to wirelessly alert shoreside contacts—contributed to the risk to the onboard crewmembers and to the severity of the fire.

“Vessel wireless monitoring and notification systems with an ‘in-port’ setting allow operators to be notified of a potential emergency when a vessel is moored at the dock and crews are not standing a 24-hour watch,” the NTSB report said. “Vessel operators should test the system on a set schedule to ensure it properly notifies the recipients of the alert.

“When the vessel is undergoing repair work that can cause false alarms, such as hot work, crewmembers should check the fire detection and notification system to ensure it is operating following the completion of work.”

The system was supposed to alert two shoreside contacts if a fire was detected. The crewmembers living on board were not listed among the notification system’s designated contacts.

The report highlights that, “crewmembers living or staying on board a vessel while it is in port should be included on the system’s designated contacts to be notified immediately in case of a fire or other emergency.”

Investigators could not definitively determine the cause of the fire in the dry stores room due to extensive damage. It was likely caused by an unknown electrical source in the dry stores room.

Marine Investigation Report 24-10 is available online.

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