The first few months of 2019 has already seen three major container ship fires. The most recent fire, on board the Grande America, has resulted in the sinking of the roll-on/roll-off containership in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France, the loss of her cargo and oil pollution from the 2,200 metric tonnes of fuel on board.
Distressed cargo from the fire hit containership Yantian Express will take two months to be discharged once operations get underway at a shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas.
The year has not started off well or the shipping industry and the cause of marine safety. The fatal fire aboard the vehicle carrier Sincerity Ace cost the lives of five seafarers and will have destroyed 3,600 cars and most probably the vessel herself.
The crew of the containership Yantian Express have been successfully evacuated as the fire in containers on its deck “significantly” increases in intensity.
Following the tragic fire on the Maersk Honam earlier this year that left five dead Maersk Line has new guidelines for the stowage of dangerous cargoes across all 750 vessels in its fleet.
This is the age of blame, when errors are unacceptable, procedures are designed on the precautionary principle and accidents don’t happen. Except it doesn’t work out like that. Almost certainly, someone was to blame for the fire which broke out in the hold of the Maersk Honan the other day, but the chances are they won’t be brought to book any more than all those guilty people responsible for most of the other fires which wrecked container ships over the years have been identified and prosecuted.
The huge fire that continues to rage on the ultra-large containership Maersk Honam brings into focus longstanding concerns in the industry over the severity of fires on boxships.
I have just been reading an account of a fire on board ship, where the crew, after extraordinary efforts, managed to save their vessel and bring her into port.