In the early hours of Friday morning, the UK Coastguard was notified of a fire on board the U.S.-flagged car carrier Honor in the English Channel. The vessel had just left Southampton on a voyage to Baltimore.
The agency reported that the vessel’s fixed firefighting systems were used to attack the fire and the cargo space was sealed. None of the crew were harmed, and the Honor was able to return to Southampton under her own power, where she planned to anchor southeast of the Isle of Wight.
A fire and rescue response team including members of the local Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was airlifted on board the vessel. In addition to emergency response duties, the team was tasked with determining the extent of the damage and evaluating the safety of bringing the Honor into port. A pilot from Southampton Port and an MCA Marine Casualty Officer were also transferred to the vessel to assess her condition.
Following assessment team reports, the vessel was allowed to come alongside a pier at Southampton, where she will remain through the weekend. The vessel's operator, American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Shipping (ARC), said in a statement that "the fire has been extinguished, but the impacted and now-sealed cargo hold has not been inspected.”
The 1997-built Honor is one of eight ro/ros operated by ARC, with ship management provided by TOTE Services. According to TOTE, these vessels primary trade between the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast and Northern Europe, with additional routes between Asia and the U.S. West Coast. ARC’s U.S.-flag vessels are part of the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and support the U.S. military as required.
The Honor’s last inspection, recorded February 16 at the Port of Antwerp, found deficiencies including "incorrect entries" in her records of rest periods and "not as required" availability of firefighting equipment. She was not detained.
The Honor at Zeebrugge, July 2014 (file image courtesy Uwe Aranas / wikimedia)