Lack Of Remote Emergency Cut-off Valves Cause Fire Onboard


Failure of a diesel generator caused an engine room fire aboard a commercial fishing vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Marine Accident Brief 21/19, released.


On December 1, 2020, the fishing vessel was trawling for shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico when an explosion occurred in the engine room. 

Attempts to fight the subsequent fire from on board the vessel were unsuccessful, so the crew abandoned ship to a Good Samaritan vessel. 

The fire was eventually extinguished by other responding vessels, and the fishing vessel was taken under tow. However, during the tow, the stricken vessel ran aground, the fire re-flashed, and the vessel later sank. 

The vessel was a total constructive loss with an estimated value of at $300,000.

Probable cause 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the engine room fire on board the fishing vessel was the catastrophic failure of a diesel generator. 

Contributing to the spread of the fire was the location of the fuel shutoff valves within the engine room, which prevented the crew from securing them.

Lesson learnt 

Vessel designers, builders, owners, and operators are encouraged to install, regularly test, and have emergency drills that incorporate remote cut-off valves for fuel and lube oil lines.

NTSB will host a virtual roundtable on improving fishing vessel safety. The roundtable will feature government officials, industry leaders, fishing vessel operators, safety experts and survivors of fishing vessel accidents to discuss what can be done to address commercial fishing safety concerns.

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