The owner of a fishing boat destroyed by a fire has accused safety chiefs of criticising his crew for saving their own lives by escaping from the vessel.
Three trawlermen on the Ardent II scrambled to the safety of the Peterhead quay only after one spotted smoke when he got up at 5am to use the toilet.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) launched an investigation into the incident and published its findings yesterday.
The MAIB found the crew might have saved the 131ft vessel if they had fought the flames rather than leaping ashore.
Inspectors also reported the ship did not have any working smoke detectors.
But last night, ship owner Hamish McPherson, of Hopeman, said he was struggling to understand the MAIB’s findings – and revealed he would be appealing them.
“If there’s a fire on a ship the first priority should be to try and get off,” he said.
“That’s one of the most stupid statements I’ve ever read, and from an organisation that’s supposed to be concerned with health and safety.
“A ship can be replaced, and this ship has been, I wouldn’t want to think about what we would be saying now had those three crew members died.
“We regularly do safety training for our crew members, is the MAIB suggesting I now tell them they should stay back on the boat and fight the fire instead of evacuating? Human life comes first surely.”
And Mr McPherson, who skippered the trawler before his son took over in 2000, “strongly refuted” that the ship did not have any working smoke detectors.
“That ship was just about to go out and be used as a survey ship on an oil job, are they seriously suggesting that it had passed a safety inspection without smoke alarms,” he added.
The dramatic blaze engulfed the 100-tonne boat and its three-man crew – all understood to be Filipino – on August 16 last year.
Firefighters had to battle for two days to bring it under control.
The report concluded that a multi-socket adaptor in the vessel was the most likely cause of the fire.