Container Fire Breaks Out Aboard Hapag-Lloyd Boxship

The Yantian Express at Halifax, Nova Scotia (file image via social media)

Published Jan 4, 2019 12:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd reported Friday that a cargo fire has broken out on the deck of the boxship Yantian Express. The blaze began in one container and has since spread to others, and the full extent is not yet known. 

The 7,500 TEU Yantian Express is operating on Hapag-Lloyd's East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service and is under way from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is presently located about 650 nm off Canada's eastern coast. 

Hapag-Lloyd reports that the vessel's eight officers and 15 seafarers are unharmed, and they remain on board. According to the carrier it is still too early to make a precise estimate of the damage to the vessel or its cargo. 

Efforts to extinguish the fire in the containers were launched immediately, but these operations had to be suspended due to a deterioration of the weather conditions. According to German media, the master has ordered the vessel turned into the wind to prevent the spread of the fire. 

One good samaritan vessel, identified by the U.S. Coast Guard as the cargo ship Happy Ranger, is nearby in the event that the Yantian requires emergency assistance. The Ranger is an AMVER participant, and she agreed to divert upon a request from the Coast Guard. A rescue tug is under way to the scene to provide firefighting support. 

According to the latest surface forecast, a developing storm over the U.S. eastern seaboard will arrive off Nova Scotia January 6, bringing winds of about 40 knots to the area where the Yantian Express is presently located.