Container Fire Aboard APL Boxship Brought Under Control

Courtesy Defense Gujarat

Published Aug 13, 2019 4:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

A container fire broke out aboard the boxship APL Le Havre off the coast of Gujarat last Friday evening, prompting a response from the Indian Coast Guard. 

On Friday, the APL Le Havre departed Karachi, bound for Nhava Sheva, a port complex outside Mumbai. A fire broke out in a container stack aft of the deckhouse at 1915 hours while the vessel was at a position about 40 nm Porbandar, Gujarat. 

The cutter ICGS Sangram diverted to the scene to provide assistance, and her crew used a water cannon to spray down the Le Havre. After several hours of effort, the boxship's crew were able to extinguish the fire by making holes in the affected containers and filling them with water. 

No injuries were reported, and the APL Le Havre transited to the port of Mundra for evaluation. On Tuesday, she got under way once more, bound for Nhava Sheva. 

The cause of the fire has not yet been released, but the ocean freight industry has been hit by a string of cargo fires due to misdeclared dangerous goods. Some chemical commodities require special stowage and handling to transport safely, and misdeclaration can lead to placing them in circumstances that are not favorable (for example, in stowage locations with higher temperatures, or belowdecks). 

In response, many leading carriers have begun imposing steep fines for shippers who improperly declare the contents of their containers. Evergreen has announced penalties ranging as high as $35,000; Hapag-Lloyd has implemented a $15,000 fine; and OOCL says that it is imposing a "hazardous cargo misdeclaration fee."