Fire-Damaged Yantian Express Begins to Discharge Her Cargo

The Yantian Express' cargo on fire, January 2019 (courtesy Midshipman Cameron Brunick, USMMA Class of 2021)

By The Maritime Executive 05-24-2019 07:50:46

The fire-damaged container ship Yantian Express has arrived in Halifax, but her ordeal is far from over, according to carrier alliance Ocean Network Express. 

A cargo fire broke out on the Yantian Express' bow on January 3 as she was under way in the North Atlantic. With the assistance of Smit Salvage and several response tugs, the fire was eventually brought under control, and the Express diverted to the Bahamas to offload damaged cargo. Operator Hapag-Lloyd declared general average and sought GA bond and salvage security from cargo interests before allowing the containers to be retrieved; the total deposit adds up to more than 60 percent of the value of the goods, and not all of the Express' cargo interests have paid. 

Express finally arrived in Halifax with the surviving containers on May 21. Given the complexity of the salvage and the extent of the damage to the Yantian Express, the operator's intent is to discharge all 3,200 remaining containers in Halifax before sailing her to Asia for permanent repairs. 

The job of removing all of the Yantian Express' cargo is expected to take 85 hours, according to ONE - or nearly four days of round-the-clock work. During that time, she will have to be shifted along the pier in order to make room for ships that have regularly-scheduled port calls, then shifted back into place to resume work. With all of the complexity, ONE expects that the full operation will take about 12 days or more. 

If cargo interests have paid their GA and salvage security, their containers will be separated from the others and loaded onto rail cars or other vessels for transshipment. They will not, however, be inspected on the pier or stored at the terminal. "Please note it is untenable to move containers to ground positions in Halifax for inspection, not to mention the lack of space on the terminal," ONE advised. "As such, all cargo surveys, if required, must be performed at final destination."