Teams Fight Fire for Fourth Day on MSC Containership in St. Lawrence River

MSC containership
Canadian Coast Guard is assisting the stricken MSC vessel in the St. Lawrence River (Kyle McDougall, ECCC photos courtesy of CCG)

Published Mar 6, 2024 4:42 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Canadian Coast Guard reports it is continuing to monitor the situation as teams work to put out an engine room fire aboard the MSC Sao Paulo V. The fire has been burning since it was first reported on Sunday afternoon, March 3. The vessel has been positioned in a sheltered area outside the main shipping lane near the entrance to the Saguenay Fjord near the northeastern end of the St. Lawrence River.

The 63,500 dwt containership was outbound from Montreal, Canada bound for Portugal, when the fire was reported late on Sunday evening as the ship was nearing the pilot station at Les Escoumins. The Canadian Coast Guard reports it received a call for assistance from the containership which is registered in Liberia reporting an engine room fire.

The vessel was able to anchor near the northern side of the river on Monday morning and initially, two Laurentian Pilotage Authority pilot boats were standing by in case the crew required assistance. The pilot boats left on Monday afternoon, but the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Amundsen is standing by as well as a Coast Guard Environmental Response Team nearby in Tadoussac in case there is a need for a response. So far, they are reporting no environmental issues or injuries to the crew.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company arranged for a specialized team of American firefighters to board the vessel on March 5, brought in as reinforcements according to the Canadian Coast Guard. A second group of U.S. firefighters and specialized equipment was also placed aboard the vessel on Tuesday.


Two MSC vessels, a Coast Guard icebreaker, and two tugs are all standing by the MSC containership (Kyle McDougall, ECCC photos courtesy of CCG)


The crew is reporting that the fire has remained under control, although some unconfirmed reports said it has spread beyond the confines of the engine room. The crew has remained aboard the vessel although they are also ferrying over to another MSC containership for rest and supplies. The MSC Don Giovanni (41,590 dwt) was sailing from New York to Montreal and is one of the vessels standing by its fleet mate. The MSC Celine (39,000 dwt) outbound from Montreal for Corner Brook, Canada was also diverted to the scene.

MSC has also hired the tug Ocean Taiga, based in Quebec City, and the Anse de Moulin to assist. On Tuesday, and possibly again today, the tugs were being used to reposition the MSC Sao Paulo V. The Coast Guard reported the vessel was moved to a deeper area in the river to avoid grounding at low tide.