Ves­sel gutted by fire

Har­bour Grace in­ci­dent ruled ac­ci­den­tal, with elec­tri­cal is­sue in gal­ley a likely cause


Al­though the smoke had cleared and the fire was put out, there was a som­bre feel­ing on the wharf in Har­bour Grace on Mon­day, Jan. 13 fol­low­ing the de­struc­tion of the At­lantic Nav­i­ga­tor fish­ing ves­sel, a ves­sel man­aged by Quin­lan Brothers Ltd.

An in­tense and fright­en­ing blaze the night be­fore at Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises — for­merly Dawe’s Weld­ing and Sons Ltd. — left the 65-foot fish­ing ves­sel as noth­ing more than a shell of fiber­glass and alu­minum. Fire dam­age could be seen in the wheel­house and through port­holes in the hull . Noth­ing re­mained in­side.

The Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Brigade ar­rived on scene at 9:30 p.m. to the sight of the Nav­i­ga­tor up in flames. Some fire­fight­ers stayed well into the morn­ing hours, keep­ing the hotspots in­side the ves­sel un­der con­trol, and pro­tect­ing other nearby ves­sels.

Car­bon­ear Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment was called in for ad­di­tional as­sis­tance, bring­ing with them the town’s aerial truck.

There was no one on­board when the fire broke out, investigators say.

Ocean En­ter­prises’ em­ploy­ees gra­ciously gave spare jacks to the fire­fight­ers to hold up the ves­sel in or­der to pre­vent the ves­sel from tip­ping north, to­wards the neigh­bour­ing ves­sel, Ash­ley’s Pride, whose owner, Mau­rice Ak­er­man, was at the site dur­ing the fire. There was only 10 feet be­tween the ves­sels.

The ves­sel did have it's own elec­tric­ity source, and investigators are look­ing hard at the like­li­hood that an oil fur­nace may have sparked the blaze.

A po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor de­ter­mined the fire ap­peared to be caused by elec­tri­cal is­sues in the gal­ley area of the ship.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened two days be­fore owner — Ron Cur­tis of Port de Grave — was to re­take pos­ses­sion of the ves­sel. It had been dry­docked at Har­bour Grace since Oc­to­ber, and had just re­ceived a new paint job.

The cost of the ves­sel prior to the fire was es­ti­mated to be over $1 mil­lion, and con­tained some top-of-the- line equip­ment. The ves­sel is no longer sea­wor­thy, and can­not be sal­vaged, said Ocean En­ter­prises op­er­a­tions man­ager Wayne Reid.

Al­though it was a rough night for those on the dock, Reid and gen­eral man­ager Paul Lan­non con­firmed it was busi­ness as usual the next day.

Em­ploy­ees with Ocean En­ter­prises were ex­press­ing relief the fire did not spread to other ves­sels, or hap­pened on another part of the dry­dock. The dam­age could have been much worse, they said.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Fire­fight­ers bat­tle a rag­ing fire on­board the At­lantic Nav­i­ga­tor on Sun­day, Jan. 12 at the dock in Har­bour Grace.

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