Good Samaritans Respond to Car Carrier Fire in the North Pacific

The Sincerity Ace (file image)

Published Dec 31, 2018 5:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard and four good Samaritan merchant vessels are responding to a vessel fire aboard the car carrier Sincerity Ace at a position about 1,800 nm northwest of Oahu.

“The distance involved here requires any and all available support," said spokesman PO1 Les Elliott of JRCC Honolulu. "We thank the crews of the commercial vessels for volunteering to assist and have Coast Guard air support en route."

One commercial vessel, the Green Lake, is already on scene and assessing assistance and rescue options. Three additional commercial vessels and a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew are en route.

On Monday morning, the Sincerity Ace was under way in the Pacific on a voyage from Japan to Hawaii. At 0100 hours, the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) in Honolulu received notification from JRCC Japan about a situation aboard the Ace. The vessel's master reported a significant vessel fire, ongoing firefighting efforts, and an intent to abandon ship. The crew was able to launch one of the life rafts, and four of the 21 mariners abandoned ship with lifejackets. It is unconfirmed if they reached the life raft upon entering the water. The weather on scene is reported as 17-foot seas, with winds of about 22 knots.

The Ace's remaining 17 crew are reportedly continuing to fight the fire on board. No injuries have yet been reported, though the situation is fluid and continues to evolve. 

Watchstanders in Honolulu issued a SafetyNet broadcast over GMDSS requesting the assistance of vessels in the area, and they directed the launch of a Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point. The Green Lake, a 650-foot U.S.-flagged car carrier traveling from Japan to the U.S. mainland, was the first on scene to assist the Sincerity Ace. The second responding vessel is a Panamanian-flagged LNG tanker, the 970-foot SM Eagle, on a voyage from the U.S. mainland to Korea. Two additional vessels, a car carrier and a tanker, are currently en route. All four are participating AMVER vessels. 

The Coast Guard is also launching a second Hercules from Air Station Barbers Point. Both airplanes are equipped with datum marker buoys to track positions, along with life rafts and survival gear that can be dropped to survivors. In addition to the Coast Guard aircraft, the U.S. Navy will be providing a fixed wing aircraft to assist in the search effort.