Faulty Fire Alarm Led To $6m in Damage

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The 2019 loss of the superyacht Andiamo in Miami was caused by unattended candles, an inoperable fire alarm and too much firefighting water, according to a new report from NTSB. 

Incident

On December 18, 2019, the 120-foot yacht Andiamo was moored at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina in Miami. The six crewmembers aboard the yacht were preparing for the arrival of a guest of the owner. 

While getting spaces ready, two crewmembers found that the lighting systems in the lower level were not working. When the guest arrived at about 1910 hours, the lights were not working; to solve the problem, the chief stewardess lit several candles and set them on top of a dresser, right beneath the curtains for a porthole. She then left the wood-paneled suite with the guest, leaving the candles unattended. 

A few minutes later, the stewardess opened the door to the main salon and saw a plume of black smoke about four feet above the deck level. Two crewmembers began yelling “fire,” alerting the captain. 

He proceeded to investigate but did not sound the general alarm. Instead, he ordered the chief stewardess to have everyone evacuate the yacht and to call for help. At 1923 hours, she made a 911 call.

The captain and the chief engineer began an attempt to fight the fire, but they quickly determined that “it was over and there was no fighting it.” They evacuated safely with the rest of the crew, and no injuries were reported. 

At about the same time, two adjacent yachts charged fire hoses and began to spray down the Andiamo. Firefighting vessels from City of Miami Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arrived about four minutes later. 

Both of the adjacent yachts got under way shortly after in order to minimize damage, but the firefighters’ efforts continued.

While the responders used their fire monitors to try to control the blaze, water accumulated on the yacht’s upper decks, compromising her stability. The Andiamo started to list to starboard, rolled, then capsized on her starboard side, coming to rest on the bottom at 2130. The fire was extinguished at 2220, about half an hour after her partial sinking.

The Andiamo, valued at $6.3 million, was declared a constructive total loss. Repair costs for the marina and nearby vessels came to about $480,000. 

Investigation

The yacht’s integrated fire alarm system – complete with smoke detectors, thermal detectors, pull-switches and audible alarms – did not appear to go off, the crew told investigators after the incident. 

The investigation team later learned that on October 2, months before the fire, an ABS inspection had found that the fire-alarm system was not working.

Follow-up inspections found that the crew had still not managed to fix it. 

NTSB investigators determined the crew’s failure to complete timely repairs to the fire-detection system, known to be inoperable for two months, contributed to the severity of the fire. 

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Source: The Maritime Executive 

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