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Fire rips through tug and container ship

Fri 11 May 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Fire rips through tug and container ship
Firefighters tackle a fire on container ship SITC Osaka in Kobe, Japan

A week of fires on ships and workboats has led to damage and injuries. A tug operating on the Mississippi River in the US caught fire while pushing barges, forcing the crew to evacuate.

On the other side of the world, fire ripped through a container ship moored in Japan also driving crew to be evacuated.

Near New Orleans, Louisiana, pusher tug Uncle Robert caught fire and struck another vessel on 7 May. Fire broke out in the engineroom while the tug was pushing six barges full of scrap metal.

According to local reports, crew attempted to dock the tug when they discovered the fire, but struck another vessel, causing injury to three of its crew. A fireboat was dispatched from New Orleans to tackle the fire and black smoke from Uncle Robert.

Of the six barges being manoeuvred, one broke loose and struck the Poland Avenue Wharf, causing significant damage. Another barge collided with a barge that was tied to a nearby vessel. The fire was extinguished and accident inspectors are assessing damage to the tug, vessels, barges and wharf.

In Japan, several containers on 2012-built ship SITC Osaka were engulfed in fire at the terminal on Rokko island, Kobe. Accident investigators suspect the fire was connected with the collision of this Hong Kong-flagged 9,566 gt ship with another dry cargo ship, which was allowed to resume its voyage.

Fire then broke out in several containers on the aft cargo deck of SITC Osaka. Fire-fighters used fireboats and a portable port crane to tackle the fire.

In a separate incident, Panama-flagged product tanker Sunny Orion suffered a fire during a voyage through the Tsushima Strait, 55 miles south of Busan, South Korea. The fire broke out in an empty cargo tank and search and rescue vessels were deployed to monitor the 2010-built tanker.

Crew were able to extinguish the fire and Sunny Orion was able to continue its voyage to Ulsan, where it was moored and inspected. There were no injuries to the 21 onboard crew.

Also in South Korea, a floating crane has started to right the wreck of ferry Sewol, which was lying on its side at the port of Mokpo. The 6,800 tonne vessel has been at the port after it was raised in 2017. Once Sewol is upright, investigators will conduct a thorough search for missing bodies.

On another renowned salvage project, clean-up operations have finally finished. Italian company Micoperi completed reclamation of the seabed of the island of Giglio, Italy on 7 May. This was where cruise ship Costa Concordia was wrecked in January 2012.

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