Posted on March 12, 2018 by Ashleigh Cowie

A chemical fire that killed one crew member on containership Maersk Honam has been contained by firefighters, but 4 people are still missing. 

ARX Maritime reported that a fire had broke out on board the Maersk vessel last week leaving one confirmed death and two others seriously injured. The ship is less than a year old resurfacing longstanding concerns in the industry about the severity of fires on boxships.

The Indian Coast Guard has suggested the 4 missing men may be trapped inside the ship.

The 15,000 teu vessel caught fire on Tuesday evening during a transit from Singapore to Suez. The majority of the crew were safely evacuated to India, and 2 remain in hospital in a critical condition, likely to be from smoke inhalation or burns.

Maersk officials have said it is still too early to determine the cause of the fire or the impact to the vessel or cargo. The Indian Coast Guard classified it as a “chemical fire”. Hundreds of containers are thought to have been destroyed in the fire.

It is believed the fire started in the cargo hold, possibly in the vessel’s cargo.

Warnings over the problems of containership fires have come from the International Union of Marine Insurers, Allianz, the Swedish Club and DNV GL, among others in the recent years. With temperatures reaching in excess of 500 degrees centigrade the fire can easily spread to other containers and the ship as whole.


Maersk HonamPhoto of the fire on board containership, Maersk Honam

MSC Flaminia- July 2012-  The fire in the Atlantic claimed the lives of three crew members – two confirmed dead, and one missing.

MSC Daniela – 4 April 2017 – The crew of the 13,800 teu boxship sent a distress call at around 11am on 4 April last year 120 nm off Sri Lanka, the vessel had to reroute to Colombo and the fire took over 12 hours for Sri Lankan and Indian coastguard and Navy vessels to bring under control.

APL Austria – 12 February, 2017 – The vessel carrying hazardous materials caught fire off the coast of South Africa and was forced to enter Port Elizabeth after the crew sent a distress call. The blaze took two days to bring under control.

Hansa Brandenburg – 19 July 2013 – The 1,740 teu containership caught fire while sailing from Singapore to Durban causing major damage to the aft cargo hold and fore superstructure. After the fire was extinguished the vessel was towed to Mauritius.

Eugen Maersk – 13 June 2013 – Fire broke out on the vessel in the Gulf of Aden en route to Rotterdam. The Eugen Maersk diverted to the Port of Djibouti where the fire was extinguished on 23 June with 16 containers destroyed by the blaze.

MSC Flaminia – 14 July 2012 – The 6,750 teu vessel suffered a fire in cargo hold four which resulted in an explosion and the crew were forced to abandon ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean some 1,000 nm from the nearest land. The fire claimed the lives of three crew members – two confirmed dead, and one missing. The vessel took two years to return to service.

Hyundai Fortune – 21 March 2016 – The crew of the 5,551 teu ship abandoned ship south of the coast of Yemen after an explosion below deck caused a fire that spread through the vessel. The fire burned for several days and one third of the containers onboard were damaged.

Posted in Safety

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