Saturday, 31 August 2013

UPDATE: Firefighters Contain Maersk Kampala Blaze to 6 Boxes


The Maersk Kampala, adrift south of the Suez Canal, for a third day was still fighting a fire that broke out in two containers in the foremost bays on its deck.
The fire began at approximately 21:00 on Aug. 28 while the vessel was heading north towards the Suez Canal.
Maersk Line said all crew are accounted for. No injuries were reported, and communication with the vessel is ongoing. The vessel is fully maneuverable.
Tug boats with fire-fighting capability remain on the scene fighting the fire. An additional fire-fighting team was expected to arrive to help with the effort.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Al-Ahram Arabic news Web site reports that 1,600 out of 4,000 containers onboard have been affected, with losses of up to $150 million, though Maersk Line has not confirmed this.
The Maersk Kampala, which was built in 2001 as the P&O Nedlloyd Houtman, has a nominal capacity of 7,070 20-foot-equivalent units.

Maersk Line can confirm that the Maersk Kampala is presently fighting a fire in two containers within the foremost bays on deck. The vessel is fully maneuverable but drifting south of the Suez Canal. All crew are accounted for and no injuries reported and communication with the vessel is ongoing. Tug boats with fire-fighting capability are on the scene fighting the fire. In addition, a fire fighting team will arrive this evening to provide further assistance. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

Over the past 14 months, five fires have broken out on board containerships around the world, nearly all of which have resulted in significant, or total loss of the vessel.
In July 2012, containers on board the MSC Flaminia caught fire and exploded in the mid-North Atlantic, killing 3.
In June 2013, a single container on board the Eugen Maersk caught fire near the entrance to the Suez, however the crew was able to extinguish the fire quickly.
In July 2013, the bow section of the MOL Comfort caught fire and ultimately sank with a total loss of all cargo.  That same month, the mixed cargo vessel Hansa Brandenburg caught fire off Mauritius resulting in significant damage to the cargo and the ship’s superstructure.


According to latest Maersk press-release dated Aug 30, fire on board of Maersk Kampala is still on. Tug boats with fire-fighting capability remain on the scene fighting the fire. An additional fire-fighting team was to arrive on the site in the afternoon Aug 30. According to some regional media, fire is by no means small, but there is no confirmation of their reports. There is no AIS signal yet, which is the only proof of possible scale of the fire. If AIS is off because of technical failure, it means fire damaged the bridge. If initially there were two burning containers, later fire obviously spread further, engulfing other containers. Several tugs with powerful water canons should extinguish fire long time ago, be the fire restricted to two containers only.
Fire on board of boxship Maersk Kampala, AIS off, why?
Maersk Line said on Aug 29 13 that the Maersk Kampala was fighting a fire in two containers within the foremost bays on deck. The vessel is fully maneuverable but drifting south of the Suez Canal. All crew are accounted for and no injuries reported and communication with the vessel is ongoing. Tug boats with fire-fighting capability are on the scene fighting the fire. In addition, a fire fighting team was to arrive in the evening to provide further assistance.
Comment:
Let’s hope that the fire is what it is said to be, just two containers in the fore section, but there is something which hints at a more serious situation than described in Maersk statement. Vessel left Jeddah on Aug 27 at 01:24 UTC according to AIS-Satellite, bound for Suez, proceeding at a speed of 16.5 knots. ETA Suez therefore, is about 1300-1400 UTC Aug 29. Vessel should be visible on AIS trackers, but there is no signal since morning Aug 28. As of morning Aug 30, there is still no signal. Vessel should be drifting somewhere off Suez, well in the range of AIS trackers. Assumingly, AIS is off. Why? Either because Maersk just don’t want vessel to be tracked by anyone interested, understandably trying to avoid unwanted publicity, or because AIS system is inoperable. If the latter is the case, it can be explained only by fire being still on, or damages inflicted by hopefully, extinguished by now fire, of a much bigger scale than stated.
Voytenko Mikhail



Firefighting tugs early Monday were making progress toward extinguishing a blaze on the Maersk Kampala, five days after fire broke out in a container in the ship’s forward bay as it steamed toward the Suez Canal, Maersk Line said.
The fire broke out in a single container at the bottom of a stack on Aug. 28, and spread to a “several other containers” in the two foremost bays Friday and early Saturday, when weather conditions prevented the firefighting tugs to get close enough to have maximum effect, the company said.
“Saturday and Sunday saw weather improve and firefighting tugs on scene have been able to continue soaking the area and have managed to reduce the number of containers with fire to six, all contained in the same bays,” Maersk said.
It said firefighting crews aboard the 6,800-TEU vessel are working to extinguish the fire inside containers by cutting open the hot boxes as well as those nearby and flooding them with water.
Another firefighting team was scheduled to board the vessel Monday evening.


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