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Avoiding disaster: How a yacht fire was averted at the last minute

7 February 2024

A recent incident on a yacht could have led to a catastrophic fire but thanks to proper procedures and training, the situation was quickly dealt with by its crew and averted.

It is no secret that yacht fires have become more prevalent in recent years. With the increased use of lithium-ion batteries, the degree of risk for crews is elevated and training is essential for dealing with and averting potentially catastrophic fires.

A recent incident, highlighted by CHIRP, an independent organisation that enhances maritime safety, showed how during a routine inspection on board a yacht, one of two charged lithium-ion batteries were found to be abnormally warm. After monitoring, its temperature rose to alarming levels, leading to its disposal at sea due to a suspected thermal runaway, potentially caused by a faulty cell.

This case, one of many, demonstrates the importance of having an awareness of battery conditions, what to look for, and how to deal with an impending crisis. With lithium-ion batteries having been the established cause of numerous fires in recent years, there’s a growing need to implement proper procedures and checks on batteries onboard vessels. The complexities of safe battery operation and disposal are also a factor in being able to manage risk - especially when crews are unfamiliar with the setup.

We recently released a resource on how to identify potential issues relating to lithium-ion batteries, which covers thermal runaway, off gassing, hissing and popping among other observations that illustrate the condition of the battery.

Access our webinars

Our latest webinar on risk management will be taking place this February 15th. Stay tuned for further details on how to take part. In the meantime, you can see our archive of webinars to explore our previous discussions covering issues from crew welfare to lithium-ion battery safety onboard yachts.

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