Maersk Honam Seeks Refuge at Port of Jebel Ali


Published Mar 22, 2018 8:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, 2M alliance partner MSC confirmed that the fire-damaged boxship Maersk Honam will be towed to the port of Jebel Ali, UAE, where her cargo will be offloaded. The transit and related operations are likely to take two weeks, and the exact ETA is not yet confirmed. 

The Honam is attended by the offshore tug Amazon Chieftain Z. As of Thursday, the Chieftain's AIS signal showed her at a position 240 nm off the coast of Gujarat and headed north at three knots, with Jebel Ali as her destination. 

Earlier reports had suggested that Salalah, Oman was the most likely port of refuge for the Maersk Honam. Maersk has been in talks with multiple deepwater ports in the region in an attempt to find a berth for the vessel, which was still burning as of the most recent report. 

Despite the intensity and persistence of the fire, BCOs may well be able to recover their cargo, depending upon its stowage location. "Based on a limited amount of information to hand, MSC reasonably expects that a substantial proportion of the cargo located after, behind the ship's accommodation area should be in sound condition," MSC said in a customer update. "Unfortunately, we must assume, based on the details to date, that most containers located in front of the accommodation area are damaged by fire, heat or the water used to fight the fire." 

The full extent of the damage to the vessel and her cargo will be established once the containers are discharged at a port of refuge and inspected. Maersk Line has declared general average for the Maersk Honam, meaning that shippers' insurers will have to post GA and salvage security bonds before their cargo is released. Marine insurers expect that damages will total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the British International Freight Association. 

Five crewmembers died as a result of a cargo fire that broke out forward of the Honam's accommodations block on March 6. One died during evacuation, three were found on board on March 12 and one is missing and presumed dead.

Maersk has confirmed that the vessel was carrying dangerous goods, but it says that it is too soon to know whether these contributed to the outbreak of the fire. Maersk asserts that all known dangerous goods containers on the Honam were properly stowed in accordance with the IMDG code. However, the company has stopped stowing dangerous goods next to the accommodations block and engine casing on its other vessels as a precautionary measure while it investigates the cause of the fire.