Star Fish Ablaze

SUZANNE MCFADDEN - BOATING NZ
Last updated 10:08 13/08/2012
Sun Fish Fire
McMullen and Wing
The fire at Auckland boatyard McMullen and Wing caused significant damage to one construction hall, but spared four others halls, office areas, and workshops.

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Fire has severely damaged the almost-completed $50 million superyacht Star Fish at esteemed Auckland boatyard McMullen & Wing.

The 50m luxury expedition yacht - built to explore the world's oceans - was engulfed by flames when firefighters arrived at the McMullen & Wing yard in Mt Wellington early on Sunday morning.

The company's managing director, David Porter, has described the fire as "absolutely heartbreaking."

Construction of the steel and aluminium motor yacht for Aquos Yachts was two-and-a-half years into a three-year programme - the biggest project McMullen & Wing have ever undertaken.  

The boat was due to launch in March next year, joining its award-winning sistership Big Fish. Also built at McMullen & Wing, Big Fish has explored more than 60,000 nautical miles of ocean, including Antarctica, since its launch in 2010. 

McMullen & Wing described the damage to Star Fish as "very extensive". The yard's largest construction hall also suffered fire damage to its roof and walls. 

The company said it could take weeks to determine the full extent of the damage, with the cause of the fire still unknown.

David Porter said the fire struck a "devastating blow to everyone."

"Our staff, the owner of the yacht and his team, the huge range of suppliers to the project....Everyone has invested so much energy and love into this project over a long period of time," he said.

"The energy and excitement of the whole team as this enormous work of art and craftsmanship takes form is very special. To see it all go up in flames at such a late stage is absolutely heart breaking to us all.

"While we're all very thankful that no-one was hurt in the fire, it leaves many of us in a daze.  It's naturally a time of great uncertainty for everyone in the short term as we grapple with the many issues this raises."

The structural fabrication of Star Fish had been completed, with coating, mechanical, electrical and electronic systems "well advanced".  The boat's spectacular interior fit-out was mid-way through installation.

Workshops, office space and other four construction halls were spared by the fire; a major refit project of a commercial aquaculture vessel was unaffected.

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