Fire on a motor cruiser exposes possible shortcomings in Irish pleasure craft legislation

Possible shortcomings in Irish pleasure craft legislation exposed by fire
Possible shortcomings in Irish pleasure craft legislation exposed by fire

An investigation by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) into a fire onboard a motor cruiser on the River Shannon in Ireland has exposed possible shortcomings in Irish legislation governing the safety of pleasure craft.

On 6 September 2020, four people set out in X4, a Linssen Grand Sturdy 35.0 motor cruiser rented from boat hire service, Carrickcraft. After around 45 minutes a fire broke out in the engine compartment. The passengers, who had been given training in emergency responses, donned lifejackets and telephoned the Carrickcraft base, from which an emergency crew was immediately dispatched. Gardaí and the fire brigade were also alerted, while a passing vessel was able to take the crew on board.No one was hurt in the incident which caused the motor cruiser to sink in around eight metres of water.

The MCIB report found that the seat of the fire was in the engine compartment but the vessel was so badly damaged the exact cause of the fire was impossible to determine and will never be known.

No fire alarm

As charter vessels operating on the inland waterways network are not manned by a commercial skipper and crew, they are considered recreational craft and are subject to the requirements of the Code of Practice (CoP) for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft, rather than the arguably more comprehensive Merchant Shipping Act 1992.

“The CoP does not provide for the mandatory fitting of fire detection systems on recreational craft and hence there was no fire detection system fitted to the Carrickcraft vessel X4,” said the report.

“If this fire had started while any of the party were asleep then the consequences could have been more serious.”

Recommendations

– The report recommends that the Minister for Transport should consider making regulations to govern the safe use of recreational craft being used for commercial purposes, which should include mandatory fire detection on vessels used for charter purposes.

– It also advises Carrickcraft to employ an independent qualified marine electrician to inspect its remaining Linssen 35 vessels in the fleet.

– It further recommended the Minister for Transport should consider issuing a Marine Notice about the potential risks of electrical issues with similar craft.

Download the full report: MCIB Carrickcraft Report

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