StarFish Suffers Fire at McMullen & Wing

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 7, 2012: The steel hull of StarFish was examined by a surveyor and has been determined to be structurally sound. Richard Beattie, the owner of StarFish, has decided to put the project up for sale, for financial reasons. “Everyone involved with the project knows how much energy, how much creativity went into her vision, design, and creation,” he says. “As many in the industry know, I am also the owner of Big Fish, which after more than 60,000 nautical miles is now undergoing a refit at McMullen & Wing in her birthplace of Auckland, New Zealand. In January she will resume her record-breaking charter and cruising schedule in the South Pacific and shortly thereafter in Southeast Asian waters. It was never my intention to own two large yachts, and given the additional time and financial resources that would be required to complete StarFish, I have decided to give another owner the opportunity to carry forward with her completion.”

McMullen & Wing estimates that the megayacht can be finished within about 18 months once she’s sold. The engine room was 95-percent completed and emerged unscathed from the fire, which gutted the interior. The aluminum superstructure does need rebuilding, however, so it, along with the six-stateroom layout, including the private owner’s deck, can therefore be completed to the original plans, or even tailored to a new owner’s requests. McMullen & Wing has already reached out to a handful of yacht designers to request suggested arrangements in anticipation of the latter.

The shipyard states, “The vessel has been extensively surveyed post-fire to confirm the state of remaining structures and equipment to ensure only items which can be delivered to brand new superyacht standard are retained. Laser measurements have been taken of shaft alignment and specific structural items, confirming that the fire caused no distortion to the steel hull. Experts from classification society Germanischer Lloyd have identified isolated areas of local damage to steel decks and bulkheads which would be replaced with new to ensure that the entire completed steel structure represents a foundation of 100% confidence and quality.”

To inquire with McMullen & Wing directly regarding the project, please fill out our contact form. Read on for the original story about the fire, posted on August 13.


The 164-foot (50-meter) StarFish, the successor to the 148-foot (45-meter) Big Fish, was severely damaged in a fire at McMullen & Wing this weekend. No craftspeople were killed, and neither were any emergency responders.

News outlets quote fire officials in Auckland, New Zealand, where the shipyard is located, as saying the fire started somewhere near the yacht, but not onboard. However, it spread to the yacht and caused extensive internal and external damage. Ninety firefighters responded, with fire officials describing it as a “fire within a fire” due to flames being both onboard and within the building, adding that the buildup of heat within the contained build shed made things further difficult.

An investigation is ongoing as to how the fire that affected StarFish and the build shed started, though arson has been ruled out.

StarFish was about two and a half years into a three-year build time when the fire occurred. Michael Eaglen, McMullen & Wing’s commercial manager, told the Fairfax New Zealand news that the shipyard team was devastated. “It’s been a huge effort by a huge number of people, it was in the finishing stages,” he’s quoted as saying. “There’s not a lot of talking going on here, there are a lot of fairly shocked people.” He then added, “It’s too early to determine how much damage there is. Once that’s happened we will be able to work with insurance and go through figuring out how much damage there is and what is repairable and what needs redoing.”

McMullen & Wing released a statement to all media saying that upon completion, the megayacht would have been worth more than NZ$50 million (about US$40.8 million). The statement further contained the following additional information:

“Damage to StarFish 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.”

We reached out to Richard Beattie, the owner of Big Fish and StarFish, for a comment. He released the following statement early this evening:

“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.”

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