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Trident Seafoods Factory Trawler Catches Fire in Tacoma

Fire aboard Kodiak Enterprise
Fire aboard the Kodiak Enterprise, April 8, as seen from inside the fire boat Zenith (South King Fire and Rescue)

Published Apr 9, 2023 5:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday afternoon, a fire broke out aboard a Trident Seafoods factory trawler at Tacoma's Tideflats Port Facility, burning through the deckhouse and the wheelhouse. It is the second major fire aboard a Trident vessel in Tacoma since 2021. 

The fire broke out in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the Washington Department of Ecology. The Tacoma Fire Department dispatched crews to the scene to combat the fire from the pier, and South King Fire and Rescue sent the fire boat Zenith to assist from the water side. The U.S. Coast Guard closed down the waterway to marine traffic for safety, and multiple layers of booms were installed around the vessel to contain any potential spill. 

South King Fire & Rescue

Washington State Department of Ecology

Washington State Department of Ecology

The Washington State Department of Ecology set up air monitoring to watch for potential health hazards from the smoke, and it found pollutant levels at or below the level of moderate concern. To ensure the safety of the public, the Tacoma Fire Department has issued a temporary shelter in place order for three neighborhoods downwind. 

No injuries or water pollution have been reported. As of Sunday, the vessel continued to emit a substantial volume of smoke. 

“We want to thank everyone for their prompt response and support,” said Joe Bundrant, CEO of Trident Seafoods. “This has been a challenging containment issue and we appreciate the ongoing efforts over this Easter weekend.”

In an update Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard said that the fire has progressed throughout the ship and has reached to within about 100 feet of the vessel’s freon refrigerant tanks. The ship has an estimated 19,000 pounds of freon onboard, and the heat from the fire could cause pressure to build in the freon tanks.

The freon tanks have heat-activated pressure relief valves, which are designed to vent the contents if necessary. While freon can be toxic if inhaled in large quantities, the Coast Guard said, the release of freon into the atmosphere is not expected to pose any risk to the public. 

Kodiak Enterprise is a 1977-built factory trawler, originally constructed as an OSV and converted into a fishing vessel in 1989. She had just returned from her most recent Bering Sea fishing voyage on March 25, according to AIS data provided by Pole Star.

Trident's second fire since 2021

The fire aboard Kodiak Enterprise is the second to affect a Trident fishing vessel in two years. In February 2021, the fish processor Aleutian Falcon caught fire at a shipyard in Tacoma during maintenance work. 

The 2021 fire broke out while Aleutian Falcon was under repair. A team of welders were cutting out a section of corroded steel on the bridge deck, and sparks or slag likely ignited a wooden bulkhead in an interior space below, according to the NTSB. The fire spread throughout the vessel, resulting in a $16.5 million total loss. 

Among other impacts, the fire damaged crane hydraulic hoses, resulting in a small 20-30 gallon oil spill. The spill drew Trident a $25,000 state fine.

"Investigators found the scope of the repair work [on Aleutian Falcon] was not adequately communicated between workers, supervisors, and officials ahead of time. While working, crews did not take proper precautions or follow national standards that would have prevented the fire," the Department of Ecology claimed in a statement about the 2021 fire. "Also, Trident did not report the vessel emergency within an hour of the onset of the fire, as required under law and the company’s spill contingency plan."