Cargo Discharge Set to Begin for Fire-Damaged Yantian Express
The fire-damaged container ship Yantian Express is moored at the Freeport Container Port in Freeport, Grand Bahama, awaiting the unloading of damaged cargo. In a customer update, carrier alliance ONE said that the local port authority is monitoring the preparation of the reception site and is expected to give its final approval to start discharge operations in the next few days.
The work will begin with damaged cargo, and ONE expects the process to take about two months. According to the general average surveyor, 202 containers are suspected to be a total loss, and another 460 were stored in the affected area and require inspection. 17 reefers were turned off during the firefighting operation and will also require a survey.
No timeline has yet been set for removing the undamaged containers - which constitute the majority of the goods on board - but the alliance is exploring its options and expects to announce a plan as soon as possible.
All cargo interests will have to post salvage and general average guarantees in order to retrieve their goods. The salvage guarantee provides for cargo owners' liability up to a maximum of 32.5 percent of the CIF value of the cargo. For uninsured cargoes, the general average bond requires a cash deposit of 28 percent of the cargo value; for insured cargoes, the insurer will address this portion of the liability. This adds up to a maximum total deposit of 60.5 percent of the value of the cargo. Some portion of these funds may be refunded after the salvage award is finalized and the general average adjustment has been completed, but these processes will likely take time, according to adjuster Richards Hogg Lindley.
On January 3, a cargo fire broke out on the Yantian Express' foredeck as she transited off Canada's eastern seaboard. Efforts to extinguish the fire were launched immediately, but these initial operations had to be suspended due to deteriorating weather. All crew safely evacuated from the Yantian Express onto the response tug Smit Nicobar on January 6, and five returned to the Express to rejoin the firefighting effort on January 9. Once the fire was under control, the Express diverted to the Bahamas to offload her cargo and conduct a damage assessment. Smit Salvage handled the response under a Lloyds Open Form contract with operator Hapag-Lloyd.