The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the immediate cause of the Aug. 17, 2016, fire aboard the auto and passenger vessel Caribbean Fantasy was leaking fuel that contacted a hot surface in the ship’s engine room. Contributing to the fire’s rapid spread were quick-closing valves for fuel and lube oil that were intentionally blocked open, according to the investigation. The NTSB also found that fixed firefighting systems and a structural fire boundary failed.
Also contributing to the fire and a subsequent prolonged abandonment effort was Baja Ferries’ poor safety culture and ineffective implementation of its safety management system on board the Caribbean Fantasy, the NTSB found. Adding to the severity of the fire was the failure of the Panama Maritime Authority and the recognized organization, RINA Services, to ensure the safety management system was functional.