How a Candle caused loss of $6.78M Superyacht in Miami – Case study

29 April, 2022

How a Candle caused loss of $6.78M Superyacht in Miami - Case study

December 18, 2019; Miami 

According to the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board’s) investigation, the 2019 loss of the superyacht Andiamo in Miami was caused by unattended candles, a malfunctioning fire alarm, and too much firefighting water.

The report’s brief 21/17 stated that candles lighted and left unattended in a boat’s VIP room triggered a fire that resulted in the entire loss of the $6.3M yacht and $480,000 in damage to a Miami marina and surrounding vessels. 

Marc Anthony’s publicist confirmed that Andiamo, his 120-foot (36.6-meter) Benetti, collapsed after catching fire on Wednesday night. Neither Anthony nor his guests were on board. The crew is said to have evacuated uninjured as well.

Anthony’s Benetti Classic 120 megayacht was docked at Island Gardens Marina on Miami’s Watson Island. According to Miami Fire Rescue, they responded to the fire at 19:30 hours. “Because of the volume of fire on that ship, we had to adopt a more defensive approach,” Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll informed a local TV station.

As a result, the firemen sought aid from both Miami Beach Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. More than 45 firemen worked together to extinguish the flames from the dock as well as two fireboats. It took them around 2 hours to control the fire. Fortunately, the fire did not spread to other ships at the dock. Also, no further damage happened at the marina.

You can see the severity in the top left photo below, shared by Miami Fire Rescue on Twitter:

Miami Fire Rescue units responded to a 120Ft yacht that was on fire at approximately 07:30pm today. Units from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami Beach Fire Rescue were called upon to assist with water assets. Fire was under control within 2 hours and no other boats were damaged.

— Miami Fire Rescue (@CityofMiamiFire) December 19, 2019

Andiamo, which was built in 2007, had frequently entertained the singer’s friends and family. Apparently, the artist shared multiple photographs and videos of fellow performers and business partners onboard via his own social media accounts. 

Anthony, an ardent boater and yacht owner, has enjoyed smaller vessels over the years. Additionally, Anthony’s megayacht, which sleeps 12 people, was listed for sale earlier in 2019.

So what actually happened on board the vessel?

The 120-foot yacht Andiamo was docked at Miami’s Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina on December 18, 2019. The six crewmembers onboard the ship were preparing for the arrival of a guest. While two of the crewmembers were getting the space (a wood-paneled suite) ready for the guest, they found out that the lighting system was not working in the lower levels. 

When the guests arrived at the space around 19:10 hours, the lights of the cabin were not working. To solve the issue, the chief stewardess lit 3 candles and set them on top of a dresser. This dresser was right beneath the curtains for a porthole. The crewmember extinguished one candle that was flickering, while the other two remained lit. 

After lighting the candles, she left the wood-paneled suite along with the guest, leaving the candles unattended. 

How was the fire detected?

When the stewardess opened the door to the main salon a few minutes later, she noticed a column of black smoke about four feet above the deck level. Two crew members started screaming “fire,” which alerted the captain. The fire developed so quickly that the crew was unable to properly begin firefighting efforts and was forced to evacuate the vessel.

He went on to investigate but did not raise the general alarm. Rather, he directed the chief stewardess to instruct everyone to evacuate the boat and seek assistance. She dialed 911 around 19:23 hours.

The captain, along with the chief engineer, started batting the fire, but soon realized that it was out of control and there was no use fighting it. At around the same time, two other ships charged fire hoses and began spraying down the Andiamo. About four minutes later, firefighting vessels from the City of Miami Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue arrived. 

Both of the nearby boats took off quickly to limit damage, but the firemens’ efforts continued. Water collected on the yacht’s top decks while rescuers utilized their fire monitors to try to contain the blaze, jeopardizing her stability.

The Andiamo began to list to starboard, rolled, and capsized on her starboard side at 21:30, coming to rest on the bottom. At 22:20, almost half an hour after her partial sinking, the fire was extinguished. The Andiamo, worth $6.3 million, was deemed a constructive complete loss. The marina and neighboring vessels required approximately $480,000 in repairs.

What was the cause of the fire?

The yacht’s inbuilt fire alarm system, which included smoke detectors, thermal detectors, pull-switches, and audio sirens, did not appear to go off, according to the crew after the tragedy. Despite the fact that the fire was extinguished on Wednesday night, fire personnel and police remained on the scene until early Thursday morning. Investigators are also still attempting to figure out what triggered the fire.

The investigating team eventually discovered that an ABS inspection on October 2, months before the disaster, discovered that the fire-alarm system was not operating. Following inspections, it was discovered that the team had not been able to fix it.

Lessons Learnt

“Investigators concluded that the crew’s inability to make timely repairs to the fire-detection system, which had been known to be dysfunctional for two months, was the major cause behind the severity of the fire,” the NTSB said.

“Candle usage on a vessel, whether attended or not, poses a fire risk,” the report said. “The abundance of flammable materials on board can allow a fire to quickly spread out of control.”

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