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Tugs tackle fatal ship fire and assist damaged ships

Fri 09 Mar 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Tugs tackle fatal ship fire and assist damaged ships
Coastguard vessel Shoor tackles a fatal fire on container ship Maersk Honam

Tugs are tackling a major ship fire in the Indian Ocean after 22 crew were evacuated. Tugboats CSC Nelson and Maersk Involver started working with coastguard ship Shoor on 9 March, fighting the fire on 2017-built container ship Maersk Honam.

The fire has been raging on the 15,262 TEU boxship since 6 March. According to Container Shipping & Trade, at least 23 crew were evacuated to nearby ship ALS Ceres, of which one was dead through sustained injuries and two required urgent medical care. Four other crew members remain missing, presumed dead. The remaining 19 crew on board ALS Ceres were taken to Cochin, southwest India.

It is not yet known what caused the fatal fire on Singapore-flagged Maersk Honam as it was sailing towards Suez, Egypt. There were around 7,800 containers on board and the fire reportedly started in cargo hold number 3, close to the crew accommodation.

Once the fire is extinguished, the stranded ship will be towed to a dock for survey and repair, and for inspectors to begin to investigate how the fire started.

It is yet another maritime accident to hit Maersk Line in March, as 2008-built container ship Eugen Maersk suffered a technical malfunction on the Elbe off Hamburg, Germany, on 3 March. In another incident, Maersk Aras had an engine failure during a cross-Pacific voyage and reached Manzanillo, Mexico on 1 March.

Also this week, tugs were deployed to rescue a stranded bulk carrier in the Gulf of Finland. Finnish icebreaker Nordica and anti-pollution vessel Kindral Kurvits were first on the scene when Glory Hongkong reported water ingress in its engineroom. These were joined by Estonian tug Atlas, and according to Vesseltracker, Glory Hongkong will be towed to Tallinn.

A tug has also been deployed off Lisbon, Portugal to assist in the salvage of grounded cargo ship Betanzos on 8 March. The vessel got into trouble during a strong storm in the area. Tug Fairmount Alpine sailed from Gibraltar to assist the stricken vessel. Refloating of Betanzos will be attempted once this storm has passed, expected on 10 March.

In Germany, tugs have towed damaged 2004-built ship Akacia from the Kiel Canal to Hamburg, after Akacia had severely damaged the Great Northern Lock in the key shipping canal. SFK tugs Kiel and Stein towed the ship to the port of Rendsburg and then Hamburg on 7-8 March. On 9 March, tugs VB Perfect and VB Bremen pulled Akacia to the Norderyard for repairs.

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