Salvage Operation Clears Cargo from Grande Costa D’Avorio
The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that the cleanup operation after the fire aboard Grimaldi’s conro Grande Costa D’Avorio marked a milestone in the operation. Four weeks after the fire that burnt for days was declared out, the salvage team completed clearing the cargo from the vessel.
The fire was declared out on July 11 with the efforts continuing to dewater the ship and begin salvage operations. At the same time, they said there would be an ongoing comprehensive investigation into the fire.
In the latest update from the command overseeing the process, the USCG reports all vehicles have been removed from the cargo decks of the ship. Grimaldi had reported at the time of the fire there were over 1,200 vehicles aboard in the car areas of the ro-ro as well as on deck. They consisted of both new and secondhand cars, as well as vans and other rolling equipment, but they said there were no electric vehicles aboard. Damage to the cars varied depending on their location and the spread of the fire.
Cars loaded on the deck seen after the fire was extinguished (USCG)
The vessel was also loaded with 157 containers stored on deck in the forward areas of the ship. Firefighters were successful in containing the fire so that the containers were undamaged. Pictures show that a floating crane was brought alongside to offload the containers. According to the update from the USCG, all the containers have also now been removed from the vessel.
At this stage, they continue to report that the vessel remains in a stable condition and that no fuel oil or hazardous material has been released into the marine environment.
Containers being hoisted from the deck of the vessel to a barge (USCG)
"Our partnerships played a crucial role in the swift response to the initial fire, and we continue to work jointly during this phase of recovery operations to accomplish significant milestones toward the completion of salvage operations," said Capt. Zeita Merchant, the Federal On-Scene Coordinator and Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey. “All stakeholders involved are laser-focused on ensuring the safety of the public and response personnel, mitigating environmental impacts, and minimizing any impacts to the marine transportation system.”
A comprehensive formal investigation also continues to determine the root causes and contributing factors leading to the shipboard fire. No timeline was offered for when the vessel might be ready to leave Port Newark.
The fire broke out on the Grande Costa D’Avorio at the Port Newark Marine Terminal in New Jersey on July 5. Local firefighters responded attempting to container the fire and the efforts were later expanded to include specialized teams. Two of the local firefighters were killed in the initial effort and the fire would continue to spread in the areas of the vehicles before it was finally extinguished after six days. The 28 crewmembers on the vessel were all evacuated without injury.