Press digest

2022 August 3

Fire Breaks Out Aboard New Trawler at Admiralty Shipyard

On Tuesday, a fire broke out aboard a newly-built factory trawler at a major shipyard in St. Petersburg, according to local outlets and videos posted on social media platforms.

The blaze started at about 1100 hours Tuesday aboard the trawler Mekhanik Maslak, a modern freezer trawler under construction for the Russian Fishery Company. Video from the scene shows smoke pouring from the vessel's bow.

Nearly sixty firefighters and at least one firefighting tug responded to the blaze, according to Russian outlet Fontanka, and the fire was extinguished by the afternoon. No injuries were reported.

The press service for Admiralty Shipyard told Fontanka that the fire broke out in the forward hold, and that no personnel or critical equipment were harmed. The yard said that the delivery timeline for the vessel will not be affected.

Mekhanik Maslak is the second in a series of ten supertrawlers under construction for Russian Fishery Company, and the fire is the latest disruption for the firm's $900 million newbuilding program. Russian shipbuilding - and specifically fishing vessel shipbuilding - has been hit hard by sanctions on Russia... European maritime technology manufacturers have pulled out of the Russian market due to banking sanctions, reputational risk, and direct sanctions on leading shipbuilders, including United Shipbuilding Corporation - the parent company of Admiralty Shipyard.

The commercial relationship between Russian shipbuilding and European suppliers runs deep, and the abrupt suspension has had an impact, according to industry outlet Seafood Source. Some fishery-specific equipment - like catch handling and processing machinery - is difficult for Russian yards to source from anywhere else. This is affecting the completion of a new generation of ships currently under construction for a major Russian incentive program, the so-called investment quota policy, which allocates catch quotas to large fishing companies in exchange for vessel investment commitments.

“Given the sanctions, the ban on the supply of equipment, the impossibility of attracting foreign specialists for commissioning, the question arose not about the timing and cost of construction, but about the feasibility of completing most of the planned vessels,” Russian Pollock Association President Alexey Buglak told Russian outlet Fish News.

Sanctions have even affected fishing executives personally. Russian Fishery Company's president, Gleb Frank, has been sanctioned by the U.S. for his family ties to Russian oligarch Gennady Timchenko; the designation would mean the exclusion of his company's products from foreign markets, so Frank has opted to sell his full 70 percent stake in the firm to his top managers.