5 Dec 2019

Failures in fighting fire on fishing ship in Timaru last year - TAIC

1:50 pm on 5 December 2019

A major report has found more could have been done to stop a fire spreading so quickly on a fishing vessel moored in Timaru Port.

Fire crews battling ablaze on board a fishing boat in Timaru port.

Fire crews battling ablaze on board a fishing boat in Timaru port. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

The blaze happened on a large fishing vessel, the Dong Won, when it was moored at the port last year.

It took eight days to extinguish and resulted in three crew members and a firefighter being hospitalised for smoke inhalation.

Transport Accident Investigation Commission's (TAIC) report today said an alarm system failed to sound after the fire started from an explosion on board, and the crew failed to muster quickly enough to help fight it.

The report also found the crew also took too long to put in a call to the fire service, and the 48-year-old ship was partly constructed of wood - all of this resulted in the fire spreading more quickly than it would have on a more modern vessel.

The Dong Won was registered in this country before stricter safety standards were introduced in 2004.

It was one of 50 currently working New Zealand's waters that did not meet modern standards and which had been given special dispensation to continue operating, known as grandparenting.

TAIC manager Martin Harper said among its recommendations was a call for this law to be amended so that non-compliant vessels were not allowed to continue sailing indefinitely.

"Clearly, we have to look at modern day standards and how at some point, those vessels either meet new modern day standards or are slowly taking off the register. Otherwise you can see the standards would slowly deteriorate."

Mr Harper said there also needed to be a review of how the current standards were being applied by Maritime New Zealand surveyors.

TAIC's report found there were possibly 12 vessels that did not qualify for grandparenting, that may not comply with modern safety standards.