Crew Safely Evacuates Boxship as Cargo Fire Continues

The Yantian Express in Halifax (file image via social media)

Published Jan 7, 2019 9:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

All crewmembers of the Hapag-Lloyd container vessel Yantian Express have abandoned ship safely, and efforts to fight the cargo fire on board continue. 

On Saturday evening, 11 non-essential crewmembers were evacuated from the Yantian Express to the AHTS Smit Nicobar, and on Sunday morning all remaining crewmembers followed suit. The Smit Nicobar remains on scene providing fire fighting assistance, and the good samaritan vessel that arrived to the Yantian's aid first - the Happy Ranger - has resumed her commercial voyage.

Ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd reported Friday that a cargo fire had broken out on the deck of the Yantian Express as she transited about 650 nm off Canada's eastern seaboard. The blaze began in one container and spread to others, and the full extent of the damage is not yet known. 

Efforts to extinguish the fire in the containers were launched immediately, but these initial operations had to be suspended due to a deterioration of the weather conditions. A Hapag-Lloyd spokesman confirmed Monday that the fire continues to burn. 

The offshore tug Maersk Mobiliser is now en route to the scene. Upon arrival, the tug’s crew plans to take the Yantian Express in tow and bring her to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Following the initial report of the fire, the U.S. Coast Guard secured the Happy Ranger's assistance using the AMVER system. The agency has also been providing continuing coordination for the response effort in the North Atlantic. “We’ve been monitoring the situation to provide as much assistance as possible and keeping in open communication,” said Chief Petty Officer Ryan Langley, watchstander at the Fifth District command center.