Smoke billows from the stricken yacht

£6million super-yacht blaze sparks pollution alert - Clean up operation underway

Jim Parker

A massive clean-up operation was launched after a fire which sunk a £6million super-yacht also sparked a diesel pollution alert in Torquay harbour.

The Princess yacht went up in flames on Saturday May 28 with thick, acrid smoke forcing the closure of parts of the promenade and the evacuation of the nearby Princess Theatre

The incident, who also led to the closure of the main and fire-damaged main pier could not have come at a worse time for the Bay as 160,000 people are  expected flood into the resort for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and English Riviera Airshow over Saturday and Sunday.

Teams from Tor Bay Harbour Authority, Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Coastguard teams and the Environment Agency worked hard over the weekend to ensure that the salvage and clean-up operation got underway as quickly as possible.

The blaze takes hold
The blaze takes hold

A council spokesman said: “We have initiated our Marine Pollution Contingency Plan and are following national Maritime & Coastguard Agency guidance to minimise pollution and environmental impacts.”

It is estimated that specialist teams have already removed three tonnes of marine diesel from the water with more due to be removed during the week.

To allow these specialist teams to safely dispose of the remaining fuel, Princess Pier is still closed, and a cordon remains in place.

Structural surveys are being undertaken to assess the damage to the pier. It will remain closed for the foreseeable future and will re-open to the public once the salvage operation is completed.

The council official added: “We are constantly monitoring the condition of the water and are taking the necessary precautions in terms of advising bathers and beach users of any changes to the water. Members of the public are asked to take note of any signs, messages, and instructions from Tor Bay Harbour Authority.”

An investigation is underway by the police to determine the cause of the fire.

“We are liaising with the owners of the vessel and their insurers to ensure the vessel can be salvaged as quickly as possible,” said the spokesman.

“We’d like to reassure everyone that the English Riviera Airshow and all other Jubilee events will be going ahead as planned this weekend. Final preparations for all aspects are underway for what is set to be a fantastic weekend of activity celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.”

The Event Village on Paignton Green will be open from 10.30am on Saturday, June 4, and Sunday, June 5, with a fantastic line up of both military and civilian air displays team who take to the sky from early afternoon.

The council official said: “We’d like to thank all of our partners and the emergency services who have responded to this incident, and the public for their ongoing co-operation to ensure teams can carry out their work as swiftly and safely as possible.”

Information on our Jubilee weekend programme can be found via: