Fire damages 50m luxury superyacht STAR FISH under construction at McMullen & Wing

The 50m luxury explorer motor yacht STAR FISH which is currently under ...

Fire damages 50m luxury superyacht STAR FISH under construction at McMullen & Wing

August 12, 2012

Written by Chelsea Smith

The 50m luxury explorer motor yacht STAR FISH which is currently under construction at the McMullen & Wing shipyard in New Zealand has been badly damaged by a fire. Fire-fighters were called to the blaze in McMullen & Wing’s Auckland premises the early hours of Sunday morning 12 August 2012. The 50m steel and aluminium expedition yacht StarFish was ablaze in the shipyard’s largest construction hall.

Fire damages 50m expedition yacht STAR FISH under construction at McMullen & Wing - Photo Credit McMullen & Wing

Motor yacht STAR FISH, under construction for Aquos Yachts, is the successor to the multi-award winning 45m charter yacht Big Fish, built for the same owner with the same Greg Marshall designed hull.

Yacht STAR FISH was nearly two-and-a-half years into her three year build programme, with structural fabrication finished, coating systems well progressed, mechanical systems nearing completion, electrical and electronic systems well advanced and her spectacular interior fit out mid-way through installation.

The STAR FISH motor yacht is the superyacht builder McMullen & Wing’s largest project to date.  As a completed vessel, the explorer yacht Star Fish would have a completed value in excess of NZ$50 million.

Damage to M/Y STAR FISH is very extensive.  The yard’s largest construction hall has also sustained fire damage to roof and walls.  Determining the full extent of the damage and what that represents to the project will be the focus of the next several weeks.  A full investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the fire, which at this stage is unknown.

McMullen & Wing’s workshops, office space and other four construction halls were spared by the fire and remain fully operational.  The company has a refit project for a commercial aquaculture vessel underway in another construction hall, which was also unaffected.

McMullen & Wing Managing Director David Porter speaks of the sense of loss which will be felt by everyone involved in the project.

“This is 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.

“Custom yacht building takes a long time and it’s when you reach these finishing stages and you see the whole yacht coming together that we are reminded of the full beauty of these yachts.  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.

“Whilst 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.

Commercial Manager Michael Eaglen has been receiving calls and messages of support all morning from past clients, suppliers and industry from all over the world: “It’s a great comfort to us all to feel the support of our friends, clients, suppliers and fellow yacht builders, both in New Zealand and around the world.  We are a very close industry and it’s at times like these that we feel the strength of the relationships forged over so many years.  Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and words of support.”

McMullen & Wing Yacht Builders

Employing over one hundred full time staff, McMullen & Wing is an internationally respected builder of world-class luxury yachts based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Founded in 1969, McMullen & Wing was responsible for the construction of many of New Zealand’s most famous racing yachts, including the 1995 America’s Cup winning NZL32 and NZL38 and numerous iconic ocean racing yachts for the late Sir Peter Blake.

In more recent times, McMullen & Wing has developed a reputation for the highest quality luxury motor yachts, producing a string of international award winning yachts over the past decade.

Following on from their first true ‘superyacht’ new build in the 35m explorer ‘Surprise’ (a luxury charter yacht based in the South Pacific now called ‘Koi’, launched 2001), McMullen & Wing have completed the 40m ocean capable yacht fisher, the Mea Culpa motor yacht built in 2003, the 35m luxury performance sailing yacht ‘Ipanema’ (now called charter yacht ‘Nephele’, launched in 2003, the 27m high speed express cruiser ‘Jariya’ (now named ‘Elliele’, launched in 2005, 37m ultra-high speed ‘Ermis2’ (2007) and most recently the 45m luxury expedition yacht ‘Big Fish’, built in 2010 and several other smaller projects.

McMullen & Wing is also renowned for refits of luxury super yachts and construction of a range of custom superyacht tenders.

Aquos Yachts has also provided a message in the wake of the StarFish yacht Fire at McMullen & Wing

“The entire Aquos Yachts team is shocked and horrified by the fire on board StarFish. We are also cognizant of the potentially devastating consequences of the fire for McMullen & Wing and its craftsmen. Our hearts go out to the shipyard workers and to the Porter family. While we are still in shock from the fire we are also moving forward quickly to determine the full extent of the damage, which we believe to be extensive. It is a process that we are informed might take several weeks, and we are committed to concluding this investigation as quickly as possible. It is simply too soon yet to advance any prediction of whether our extraordinary project is salvageable.

“While the fire, coming less than a year from the planned launch of StarFish, is a terrible setback both for Aquos Yachts and the shipyard, we remain committed to our core mission of designing and building the finest luxury expedition yachts in the world for discerning yacht owners wishing to explore the world in the highest levels of comfort and security. Big Fish, which has cruised 60,000nm since her launch two years ago, and which has proved herself among the industry’s most successful charter yachts, remains as our flagship and living proof of the Aquos Yachts vision and philosophy.”

Richard Beattie, Chairman of Aquos Yachts

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