MGN 681 (M) Fire safety and storage of small electric powered craft on yachts

Notice to all shipowners, masters, deck and engineer officers, certifying authorities and surveyors involved with yachts. This MGN notice should be read with the Red Ensign Group Yacht Code Parts A and B.

Small electrically powered craft and other vehicles (such as personal watercraft) are becoming more commonly used in place of similar petrol-powered craft or vehicles stowed on yachts. Whilst electric craft do not necessarily represent a greater fire risk than petrol craft, there are considerable differences in best practice for fire prevention, storage, fire detection and fire suppression of such craft, which should be considered when they are stored onboard. This guidance is provided for use where lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are used as the source of electrical power. Batteries with alternative chemistries may present a different risk profile during charging or stowage.

There has recently been an increase in the number of fires on yachts, with industry groups estimating 16 total losses due to fire between August 2021 and August 2022; whilst the source of some of these fires are explained and have no relation to the measures proposed in this guidance (for example arson, collateral damage from another fire, etc.) around half have not had their cause established yet; one potential explanation for the unexplained fires, out of many potential causes, could be lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery fires. There has been an increase in the use of small electrically powered craft and other vehicles such as electric tenders, electric jet skis, electric foils (e-foils) and other personal watercraft powered by Li-ion batteries. However, there has not been a thorough consideration of whether the fire prevention, detection and suppression measures previously in-place on large yachts for previous generation petrol-fuelled craft, are appropriate for the newer-battery powered craft.

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