The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about the fire on the offshore supply vessel Grand Sun, noting that substantial use of combustible wood paneling and drapery contributed to the extent of the fire.
The vessel was transiting the Chandeleur Sound in the Gulf of Mexico, about 15 miles from the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, on October 8, 2018, when she caught on fire. The four crewmembers aboard attempted to fight the fire but were unsuccessful. They remained on the stern of the vessel until they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. The fire burned itself out, and the vessel was later towed to port. No pollution or injuries were reported. The vessel, valued at $1.6 million, was deemed a constructive total loss.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the fire was the overheating of electrical wiring associated with a chest freezer or the receptacle powering it, which was located in an accommodation space. The crew were alerted to an unusual smell on board but it took several searches to discover that a pile of four foam work vests were on fire. The work vests were stored on the chest freezer located on the starboard side forward, in the upper passenger compartment, behind the door leading to the wheelhouse.
Contributing to the extent of the fire damage was the substantial use of combustible wood paneling and drapery throughout the accommodation spaces. This allowed the fire to rapidly expand, consuming the superstructure and the accommodation spaces below the main deck.
The fire damage caused the vessel to lose electrical power and then the fire pumps supplying the water hoses shortly after the crew began fighting the fire. The crew attempted to reach the fire extinguishers, but they were inaccessible due to the intense heat. Since there were no other accessible fire pumps aboard, the crew was unable to effectively fight the fire and was forced to retreat to the stern of the vessel.
Read the report in full: MAB1936