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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-18-012
Synopsis: This report discusses the fire that destroyed the small passenger vessel Island Lady on January 14, 2018, at the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River near Port Richey, Florida. The vessel, with 53 people on board, was on a scheduled transit to an offshore casino boat, the Tropical Breeze I, located about 9 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly before 1600, the Island Lady captain received a high-temperature alarm for the port engine’s jacket-water system. He notified the vessel’s operating company, Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, and turned the Island Lady around to return to the dock. During the return trip, smoke began filling the lazarette, main deck spaces, and engine room. The captain deliberately beached the vessel close to shore in shallow water. All passengers, crewmembers, and company employees evacuated the vessel by entering the water and wading/crawling ashore. The Port Richey Police Department, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Port Richey Fire Department, and US Coast Guard responded to the fire. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tarpon Springs Police Department, Dunedin Police Department, and Pinellas County emergency services also provided aid. Fifteen people were injured and transported to local hospitals; one of them, a female passenger, died in the hospital hours after the fire. Drug and alcohol testing was conducted on the crewmembers; all results were negative. No pollution was reported. Damage was estimated to be less than $500,000; therefore, a major marine casualty was not declared. The NTSB investigated the accident under Title 49 United States Code 1131 (a)(1)(f)(ii) as an accident of recurring character because of a similar fire on board another of the operating company’s vessels, the Express Shuttle II, in 2004. From its investigation of this accident, the NTSB identified safety issues in the following areas: • • Lack of company guidance regarding engine high-temperature alarms • • Lack of fire detection in unmanned spaces with exhaust tubing • • Insufficient preventive maintenance • • Insufficient crew training and documentation • • Inappropriate material and design of fuel tank level-indicator system On the basis of its findings, the NTSB makes safety recommendations to Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC and the US Coast Guard.
Recommendation: TO TROPICAL BREEZE CASINO CRUZ, LLC: Revise your marine firefighting and job training programs, including documenting both on board and ashore that all crewmembers are qualified and can continually demonstrate proficiency in their duties, such as firefighting techniques and other emergency situations.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Await Response
Mode: Marine
Location: Port Richey, FL, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: DCA18FM010
Accident Reports: Fire On Board US Small Passenger Vessel Island Lady
Report #: MAR-18-02
Accident Date: 1/14/2018
Issue Date: 12/20/2018
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC (Open - Await Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC
Date: 12/20/2018
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation—railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline. We determine the probable cause of the accidents and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, we carry out special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinate the resources of the federal government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members affected by major transportation disasters. We are providing the following information to urge A.B.K. Enterprises/Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC to take action on the safety recommendations being issued in this letter. On December 11, 2018, we adopted our marine accident report concerning the January 14, 2018, fire on board small passenger vessel Island Lady. Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the report of the investigation, which can be accessed at our website,, under report number NTSB/MAR 18/02. As a result of this investigation, we reiterated two existing safety recommendations to the US Coast Guard and issued four new recommendations, including two to the Coast Guard, and the following two recommendations to Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC: M-18-11 Develop and apply an oversight system to ensure that your maintenance program complies with the manufacturer’s recommended preventive maintenance program for the engines and associated machinery and systems on board your vessels. M-18-12 Revise your marine firefighting and job training programs, including documenting both on board and ashore that all crewmembers are qualified and can continually demonstrate proficiency in their duties, such as firefighting techniques and other emergency situations. The recommendations to Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz are found on page 50 of the attached report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate receiving a response from you within 90 days detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement them. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response electronically to