Medevac for Three Crew After Explosion on MSC Containership
French maritime authorities assisted by the French Navy responded to reports of a fire and explosion aboard an MSC containership sailing in the Mediterranean. They coordinated a medical evacuation from the containership of three crewmembers, including two who are reported to be in serious condition.
Reports of the incident were received at the regional SAR operation center (Cross Med) in Toulon, France around 9:00 a.m. this morning, June 21. The center coordinated dispatching a survey team and medical assistance to the containership. They were also assisted by the French amphibious carrier Tonnerre which was operating in the area at the time of the accident.
The MSC Rachele a 17-year-old containership registered in Panama was sailing between Naples and the port of Fos Sur Mer near Marseille when a fire broke out in the engine room of the vessel. Reports are indicating that the fire was followed by an explosion that injured the members of the crew. The vessel was about 20 miles south of Cape Cepet at the time.
Under the SAR agency’s emergency plan an assessment team was dispatched to the containership to determine the status of the machinery, power, status of the vessel and its cargo, and the consequences of the fire and explosion. The first teams aboard reported that the fire on the 107,466 dwt vessel seemed to be under control but that the vessel was drifting without power.
[#CommuniquéDePresse] Un important dispositif de secours mobilisé suite à un accident à bord d’un porte-conteneurs au large de Toulon – CP n°2 - Point de situation à 18h30????https://t.co/ROI3oEcYjL pic.twitter.com/dSWtj6lRev— Préfecture maritime de la Méditerranée (@Premarmed) June 21, 2022
The three injured crewmembers were airlifted by a helicopter from the French Navy. Two of them with serious burns have been transferred to the military hospital in Toulon and the third is in the city hospital. The ship has a total crew of 20 aboard.
AFP is reporting that Cross Med told them that the crankcase in the ship’s engine exploded and caused a subsequent fire. The vessel’s propulsion is reported to be heavily damaged. There are, however, no reports of pollution from the vessel.
The weather in the area is reported to be good with a wind at 16 knots and calm seas. A French support vessel is standing by the containership to provide emergency assistance. MSC has hired a commercial tug which is being sent to the vessel and the plan is to tow the containership to Marseille. As of this evening, the vessel is still reporting its status on its AIS signal as “not under command.”
Pictures of the vessel appear to show it traveling with a partial load of containers. Its normal capacity is 7,747 TEU. The current voyage had departed Houston, Texas at the end of May, making several port calls in Italy before proceeding toward its first port in France.