Container ships were among the main marine casualties at the turn of the year with engineroom fires, water ingress, machinery failures and lost cargo
At least four container ships required emergency assistance during the final week of 2020 and into 2021. These accidents highlight the growing concerns covering container shipping safety and the importance of first responders and salvage companies to maritime safety.
There will need to be a salvage clean up in the seas off Japan after an Evergreen Marine container ship lost 36 containers in storm conditions, 20 nautical miles off Kyushu, on 30 December.
Ever Liberal was sailing from Busan, South Korea for Los Angeles, California when it encountered high winds and waves causing these containers to be lost and damage to another 21 box units. This 2014-built, 8,452-TEU ship was redirected to the Port of Taipei, Taiwan, for the damage to be surveyed. Containers were spotted in the sea east of Shimokushiki-Jima island and off the Kyushu coast.
Off China, another container ship was in trouble. Hua Mao 369 issued a distress signal on 2 January off Xiamen, during its route from Zhuhai to Shanghai. According to Fleetmon, this 2003-built, 1,874-TEU ship suffered water ingress in its cargo hold and developed a list. It was brought into Xiamen port, avoiding grounding, berthed and its containers were unloaded. Hua Mao 369 was being taken to a Xiamen shipyard for repairs. All crew on board were safe at all times.
However, seafarers on cargo ship Ding Hao Ji 7 were not as fortunate. This ship reported a flooded cargo hold on 30 December, while transporting cement, two nautical miles north of Cezi Island in Zhoushan. According to Chinese reports, its master requested assistance from the Zhejiang provincial Maritime Search and Rescue Centre. But the ship sank before a rescue could be conducted. Of the 13 crew on board, four were rescued, two were found dead, but seven are missing. Ding Hao Ji 7 was sailing with 4,700 tonnes of cement from Wuhu to Xiamen.
In the Atlantic, container ship Maersk Elba was towed to Algeciras, Spain after it suffered an engineroom fire on 26 December. This 13,100-TEU ship was disabled off Portugal’s southern coast while sailing with container cargo to the UK. According to the National Maritime Authority of Portugal, crew were able to extinguish the fire, but unable to complete repairs. It was then towed by two tugs, including ALP Defender and VB Hispania, to Algeciras for repairs.
In the northern Atlantic, Icelandic Coast Guard came to the aid of Eimship’s container ship Lagarfoss after it suffered engine failure on 27 December. This 880-TEU ship was en route from Reykjavík to Halifax, Canada. Around 230 nautical miles south west of Iceland a main engine failure left the ship adrift. Coastguard vessel Thor responded and towed Lagarfoss back to Iceland for repairs.
In northern Scotland, tugs were required to tow a distressed general cargo ship into a safe harbour on 29 December. Crew on ship Beata experienced engine issues west of the Orkney islands, and requested assistance. Beata was towed into Scapa Flow and brought to anchor.
In Mexico, several tugs were required to fight a fire from an offshore pipeline. According to Fleetmon, a burst pipe caused an explosion and fire close to the Nueva Refineria Dos Bocas, Paraiso in Tabasco on 31 December. This line connects the refinery to offshore oil production platforms. While the area was isolated by booms, three tugs extinguished the fire.
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