Two More Tugs Sent to Assist Yantian Express
Two more ocean-going tugs have been dispatched to meet the containership Yantian Express at a position about 900 nm southeast of Halifax. The Express has been drifting or moving ahead at a slow bell in the North Atlantic since January 3, when a cargo fire forced her crew to evacuate.
The new additions to the salvage team are the DonJon-owned Atlantic Enterprise and the Boskalis AHTS Sovereign, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The AHTS vessels Smit Nicobar and Maersk Mobiliser are already present and assisting. Operator Hapag-Lloyd says that the fire is now largely under control, thanks to a response effort headed up by salvage company Smit. Five crewmembers have returned to the Express to assist the operation.
The Mobiliser has the Yantian Express in tow and is moving ahead at a "slow speed," but Hapag-Lloyd does not yet have an estimate for the time of her arrival at a port of refuge. The full extent of the damage from the fire is currently unknown.
The cargo fire broke out on the foredeck 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. 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. All crew safely evacuated from the Yantian Express onto the Smit Nicobar on January 6, and a subset returned to the vessel on January 9.