Freighter Catches Fire at Israeli Port of Haifa

Yaf Horizon
Courtesy Israel Fire and Rescue

Published Jun 10, 2024 11:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, a fire broke out aboard a Turkish-owned cargo ship at the port of Haifa, prompting a large-scale response. 

The general cargo ship Yaf Horizon arrived in Haifa from Russia on June 9, carrying a cargo of iron or steel. The vessel moored alongside at Israel Shipyards, in the Port of Haifa's Kishon district.

On Monday, a fire broke out on board, and local first responders from the Kiryot fire station and a good samaritan tug from the Haifa Marine Transport Company mobilized to fight the blaze. The seat of the fire is located in the engine room. 

"Currently, what is burning is a generator room on the second level in the engine room, and access is impossible," on scene commander Moshe Chiko Levy told Walla.co.il. "There is no danger to human life on the ship. Right now the firefighting efforts are focused on trying to save the ship."

The fire is not believed to have been caused by a drone strike or gunfire, according to local officials. Yemen's Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked Israel-bound shipping, and have attempted to strike the southern Israeli port of Eilat, but have yet to select a target as far north as Haifa. 

Yaf Horizon is an 8,300 dwt freighter belonging to an Istanbul-based shipping company. The 15-year-old ship has a long history of port state control inspection deficiencies, including multiple citations for engine room cleanliness, fire damper issues and inoperable fire alarms. 

Before her arrival in Haifa, Yaf Horizon's previous voyage took her to Novorossiysk, Russia, on the Black Sea. On the way back, her AIS signal was artificially affected by spoofing twice - once by the well-known Simferopol Airport AIS disruption affecting Crimea, and a second time by a disruption event centered on Beirut International Airport. Both incidents "relocated" the ship's reported position onto an airport runway, far inland - a phenomenon associated with defensive electronic warfare systems. 

Two regional spoofing events: Simferopol Airport, top, and Beirut International Airport, bottom, both producing what appear to be triangular deviations from the Yaf Horizon's trackline (Pole Star)