Superyacht Fires Have Evolved – How Do We Combat the Problem?

superyacht fires


Just as superyachts and the technology they use have evolved over the years, so have the way fires start onboard.  And if you think the newer the vessel the less chance there is of fire, then you’d be wrong.  

As our demands for more sophistication increase, so does the chance of fire.  Incredible to think that technological advancement could be described as both the cause and the solution to superyacht fires today. 


Superyacht Fires Continue to Cause Immense Damage

How many superyacht fires do you think there have been in the last 12 months?  

6? 8?

How about 16 reported incidents!  

Here’s the list with superyacht size, location and date:-

  1. 44m was destroyed in fire in Spain (August 2022)
  2. 34m caught fire onboard in Ibiza (August 2022)
  3. 27m caught fire and sank in Estonia (August 2022)
  4. 26.8m caught fire off the coast of Italy (July 2022)
  5. 25m sunk off near Chub Cay, Bahamas (July 2022)
  6. 26m sunk off of the Turkish coast (June 2022)
  7. 27m caught fire and sank in Puglia (May 2022)
  8. 25.9m was destroyed in fire in Torquay, the UK (May 2022)
  9. 27m was destroyed in fire in Valencia, Spain (April 2022)
  10. 30m was destroyed in fire at a shipyard in Cattolica, Italy (January 2022)
  11. 32m was destroyed in fire in Portsmouth (December 2021)
  12. 30.5m was destroyed in fire in Portsmouth (December 2021)
  13. 24m caught fire on her way to Porto Corallo in Sardinia (October 2021)
  14. 35m sunk after a fire in Marina di Olbia, Italy (September 2021)
  15. 29m caught fire in France during a charter trip (August 2021)
  16. 24.9m caught fire in the USA (August 2021)


Maybe they were older vessels?  

No – there were a mixture of ages. One was only a month old!


Perhaps they caught fire in remote areas which were difficult to reach?  

No – some were in marinas or refit yards. 


How Do We Reduce the Chance of Having Superyacht Fires ?  

Layers of safety are the solution and each layer has a role to play in the ultimate safe-guarding of everyone onboard and the vessel itself.  

A combination of active and passive systems range from state of the art to simple preventative measures.  


Well, by adding several layers, you are making a resilient plan to combat the impact of a fire and maximise safety at sea.  

  • Sprinkler systems
  • Fire sensors and alarms
  • Smoke alarms
  • Fire extinguishers and blankets
  • Risk management 
  • Crew education and training
  • Structural fire protection of the vessel
  • Flame retardant treatments of textiles

Superyacht Fires Over the Years – What’s Changed?

Fire is complex – how it starts and how it is prevented. 

We have a love/hate relationship with fire. In small amounts flames are mesmerising, who doesn’t want to cosy up to an open fire, toast marshmallows, find peace in listening to the crackle.

understanding fire

Yet put a fire where we don’t want it and it’s a very different scenario.  The noise, the smell, the thick smoke and intense heat.  Fire can ravage our surroundings in the blink of an eye.  


Did you know that fire doubles every 30 seconds – that’s quick!  It doesn’t give much time for escape. So those extra minutes gained from the layers of fire protection are very precious.

Causes of Superyacht Fires – Then and Now 

In the past, wiring on older vessels combined with the damp sea air, used to be cause for concern.  A lack of safety regulations, poor crew training and the popularity of smoking created a very different set of fire causes.

These days the reasons are very different:-

Training of staff to understand fire prevention and what to be aware of in relation to their particular vessel.

Incidents in shipyards during refit and repair

Electrical Fires from increased use of electrical devices and technology

Storage and disposal of lithium ion batteries 


Advantages of Passive Fire Prevention – Flame Retardant Treatments

  1. Peace of Mind.
  2. Compliance with current legislation (MGN 580M) and IMO FTP Code 2010 Compliance.
  3. Added level of safety for those on board and your investment.
  4. Can be treated regularly to maintain adequate levels of retardancy.
  5. No upheaval or need to remove furniture as the fire retardant treatment is completed whilst in port.
  6. Once applied the treatment is invisible and doesn’t affect the handle of the textiles.
  7. Costs as a percentage of the value of the vessel are extremely small.
  8. In the event of a fire no power source is needed for the treatment to work.
  9. Once applied, the FR treatment will work whether or not the vessel is manned.
  10. Flame retardants prevent fire starting so fire fighting equipment is not deployed, with the possible resultant damage.

What You Should Do Next?

Fire doesn’t care about the age of a vessel, who is onboard, where it is sailing, where it is berthed or whether it’s for private use or charter.  

The best way to prevent a fire is by ensuring you have a comprehensive plan which includes regular reviewed pro-active and passive measures to offer the best protection of your crew and vessel.

Take a look at what you have in place and ensure that it’s up to date.  If you have any flame retardancy questions, then do get in touch.


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