Dong Won 701.  Credit: Stuff
Dong Won 701. Credit: Stuff
Accommodation fire on board, fishing trawler Dong Won 701, Timaru, 9 April 2018
Occurrence Date
Report Publication Date
On 9 April 2018, the New Zealand-registered fishing trawler Dong Won 701 was discharging its catch of fish in the port of Timaru when fire broke out in the accommodation space. Initial attempts by crew to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and by the time Fire and Emergency New Zealand attended the vessel, the fire had engulfed much of the accommodation.

The firefighting response continued for some eight days until the fire was fully extinguished. The vessel was later declared a total constructive loss. Three crew members and one Fire and Emergency New Zealand firefighter had to be treated at hospital for smoke inhalation.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (Commission) found that the fire started in a cabin on the officers’ deck, but due to its intensity and duration and the consequent damage to the accommodation structure, it has not been possible to establish how it started.

The Commission found that delays in sounding the alarm, the inefficient mustering of available crew and a failure to follow good industry practice for fighting the fire allowed it to spread rapidly through the accommodation.

The Commission also found that although the Dong Won 701 complied with the relevant Maritime Rules, the vessel’s structural fire integrity did not meet contemporary standards, and this was a factor in the speed and intensity with which the fire spread.

Safety issues identified included that inconsistencies in the application of Maritime Rules Part 40D: Design, Construction and Equipment – Fishing Ships may have resulted in up to 12 fishing vessels operating under the New Zealand Flag not complying fully with the relevant safety standards. A further 50 fishing vessels have been afforded grandparent rights that will allow them to operate indefinitely without meeting contemporary safety standards under the current Maritime Rules.

The Commission has made one recommendation to the operator, DW New Zealand Limited, and two recommendations to the Director of Maritime New Zealand.

Key lessons arising from this inquiry included:
- safety-critical systems such as fire-detection and alarm systems must be routinely tested to ensure they remain functional at all times in order to give early warning of a fire
- on discovering a fire it is important for the safety of all on board that the ship’s general alarm is used to alert crew to the danger as soon as possible
- it is important to slow or prevent a fire spreading by, as soon as possible, closing all openings that can allow air to feed or be drawn into the location of the fire.
Port of Timaru (-44.392604,171.256224) [may be approximate]