One of Maersk’s Largest Boxships Grounds off Germany
One of the largest containerships in Maersk’s fleet went aground last night, February 2, as it was approaching the German port of Bremerhaven. There are no signs of a hull breach or pollution, but a first attempt to refloat the ultra-large boxship was unsuccessful and additional resources are being assembled while the vessel's ballast tanks were also emptied before a second attempt to pull the vessel back into the shipping channel near the mouth of the Weser.
Maersk confirmed reports from Germany’s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (Havariekommando) advising customers that the 210,000 dwt Mumbai Maersk was inbound to Germany with containers shipped in Asia heading for Germany and the Scandinavian countries. With a capacity of approximately 20,000 TEU, the Mumbai Maersk is part of the line’s Triple E class introduced in 2018 and one of the largest vessels in the fleet. The vessel had previously unloaded at Rotterdam before proceeding to Germany, so it is unclear how many containers are currently aboard.
The German authorities reported at just after 11 p.m. local time approaching the mouth of Weser the vessel ran aground on a shallow patch. The 1,309 foot Mumbai Maersk reported no injuries in the grounding but remained stuck. The vessel has a normal average draft of approximately 46.5 feet, but pictures released by CCME show it to be higher in the water. Reports in the local media suggest that vessel currently has a draft under 43 feet and that it may have experienced a problem with its rudder while in the fairway approaching the port. The media is reporting that the vessel made a loop taking her south of the fairway into an area used for dredged material from the shipping lane.
A total of seven vessels were sent to provide assistance, including a towing assistance team, which CCME says typically consists of four people trained to manage situations such as this grounding. A first attempt by the tugs overnight to free the containership was unsuccessful.
Mumbai Maersk remains on a shallow patch off Bremerhaven, Germany (Havariekommando)
The Mumbai Maersk’s current position is reported not to be obstructing the entrance to the Weser as the route to Bremerhaven. Port traffic is reported to be operating normally.
CCME said that Maersk retained a salvage company and that they were working with the shipping line planning additional efforts to refloat the containership. The authorities ordered a sounding of the site to get up-to-date information on the water depths in the area. The current plan calls for additional tugs to be added to the effort and a new attempt to refloat the vessel on the coming high tide around midnight on February 3. CCME reports a higher than normal tide is expected tonight with the next higher than normal tide expected Saturday night.
Maersk is advising customers with outbound cargos to be loaded in Bremerhaven that it will determine actions if the next refloating attempt does not prove to be successful. “We will look into alternative means of transport to move this cargo to its intended destinations,” Maersk wrote in its customer advisory.
The Mumbai Maersk was introduced in 2018 and claimed a new record for Maersk, loading what at the time they said was the largest number of containers. In August 2018, the containership departed Asia with a capacity load of 19,038 TEU bound for Europe.