Fire destroys $60m super yacht in Auckland

FINAL PRODUCT: A design image of the yacht Star Fish which was damaged in the fire.
FINAL PRODUCT: A design image of the yacht Star Fish which was damaged in the fire.

Arson has been ruled out as the cause of a fire which destroyed a $60 million super yacht in a fire at an Auckland boat builder's yard.

Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire, which took hold at McMullen and Wing yacht and boatbuilding about 1am on Sunday in Mt Wellington, but there is nothing to suggest foul play, Fire Service Counties Manukau area commander Larry Cocker said.

The fire started externally and it's unknown exactly what triggered it, whether it was a chemical or electrical.

Earlier today fire fighters were still dampening down hot spots.

McMullen and Wing has a long history of building luxury and high performance yachts and was the brawn behind New Zealand's America's Cup winning yacht Black magic.

It is understood the vessel at the centre of the fire, Star Fish, was a 50 meter super yacht which had half a year to go until completion.

Star Fish is the successor to the multi-award winning 45m luxury expedition yacht Big Fish, built for the same owner, Hong Kong-based Aquos Yachts.

McMullen and Wing commercial manager Michael Eaglen said it was absolutely mortifying that two and a half years of energy and love was gone.

"It's been a huge effort by a huge number of people, it was in the finishing stages," he said.

"There's not a lot of talking going on here, there are a lot of fairly shocked people."

Eaglen said the company was awaiting the fire service to finish up at the site before insurance assessors could investigate.

"It's too early to determine how much damage there is. Once that's happened we will be able to work with insurance and go through figuring out how much damage there is and what is repairable and what needs re-doing," he said.

 "But the damage is extensive although some areas are undamaged - it's heartbreaking."

The yacht is four storeys high, can accommodate 12 guests and 12 crew members, has 15 toilets and an outdoor cinema area. It is designed to explore remote areas of the world for long periods of time.

Eaglen said the owner was buying the yacht to use privately and as a charter.

About 90 fire fighters tackled the fire with some making their way onto the vessel while it was still burning.

McMullen and Wing employees gathered yesterday in a cordoned-off area outside their workplace before being briefed on the situation by management.

One employee who worked on the yacht said he did not want to speculate on the fate of the yacht but that the situation didn't look good.

Another person in attendance, who claimed to have close links with McMullen and Wing, described the blaze as the "worst nightmare" for a company with such a fine track record in its field.

In 1995 Black Magic, led by Sir Peter Blake and Russell Coutts, beat the American defender Young America in a 5-0 victory off San Diego, California.


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