New year marked by several shipping accidents

Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Source: American Shipper

Sixteen crew members were rescued, but five missing crewmen are presumed dead. Four bodies were seen by Good Samaritan vessels but were unresponsive to rescue attempts and the Coast Guard has suspended active search-and-rescue operations.

A salvage tug, Koyo Maru, was expected to arrive at the site of the fire, 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oahu, Hawaii, on Monday and attempt to take the ship in tow.

The ship is owned by the Japanese company Shoei Kisen Kaisha and chartered to Mitsui O.S.K. 

The ship was en route from Yokohama to Honolulu, according to the schedule on MOL’s website. It was then scheduled to call Mazatlan, San Juan, Port Canaveral, Jacksonville, Newport News, Baltimore, Newark, Baltimore, Charleston and Brunswick before returning to the Far East via Namibia and South Africa.

The Sincerity Ace, built in 2009, had a capacity for 5,221 passenger cars.

The Coast Guard said aircraft and ships involved in the search to date consisted of two Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrews, a Navy 7th Fleet P-8 Poseidon aircrew, the crew of the SM Eagle and the crews of the motor vessels Green Lake, New Century 1, Venus Spirit and Genco Augustus.

The commercial vessels involved are part of the AMVER, or Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is a computer-based global ship reporting system used worldwide by search-and-rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.

Another fire, this one aboard the 7,510-TEU Hapag-Lloyd containership Yantian Express, also forced the evacuation of its crew. All 23 members are safe and unharmed.

Hapag-Lloyd said on Thursday a fire broke out in one container on the deck of the ship and spread to additional containers.

Efforts to extinguish the fire in the containers were launched immediately but had to be suspended for a time due to poor weather conditions, Hapag-Lloyd said, and the fire could not be successfully contained and increased in intensity at times.

Crew members were evacuated to the salvage tug Smit Nicobar, which arrived Friday to help fight the fire, but the fire has not been extinguished yet.

“Further developments of the situation on the Yantian Express are being monitored closely, and the firefighting efforts with the salvage tug are ongoing,” said Hapag-Lloyd on Sunday

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup said another tug, Maersk Mobilizer, has been dispatched to the ship and is expected to tow it to port. The ship is located about 800 nautical miles off the coast of Nova Scotia.

The 7,510 TEU Yantian Express, which is 320 meters long and sails under the German flag in the East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service, was built in 2002 and was on its way from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal.

“It is still too early to make a precise estimate of any damage to the vessel or its cargo,” Hapag-Lloyd said Sunday.

One of the largest containerships in the world, Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC Zoe lost about 250 containers during heavy weather in the North Sea last Wednesday while it was sailing from Sines, Portugal to Bremerhaven.

Containers have been washing up on the coast of the Netherlands and Germany, including the Frisian islands of Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.

MSC said Friday it is taking over more of the cleanup of German and Dutch waters and vowed Saturday that it was “committed to continue searching the sea for the containers which fell overboard until the last one is found. MSC will also ensure that the beaches of the Dutch and German coastlines are surveyed until all debris related to this incident has been cleared.”

MSC added it “would like to reassure authorities and members of the public in the Netherlands and Germany that the company will pay the full costs of the cleanup.”

The salvage and emergency response company Ardent Global was appointed “to coordinate the search at sea in both countries in full collaboration with relevant authorities.”

“In some locations, MSC is also taking over contracts initiated by local authorities as part of an emergency reaction to the incident in order to provide a sustained and effective response operation,” the shipping line said in a statement. “That operation is being coordinated through a single specialized response company, appointed by MSC and its insurers, in order to centralize and monitor the cleaning work.”

Sonar-tracing vessels for underwater recovery and boats with hydraulic, remote-operated grab functions to pick up boxes are being utilized in the operation.

The 19,224-TEU MSC Zoe operates in a loop between Asia and North Europe.

On Friday morning, the Coast Guard said an 837-foot bulker, Anglo Alexandria, ran aground along the Mississippi River at mile marker 3.5.

The soft grounding of the ship blocked the navigation channel and for a time there were more than 50 vessels waiting in queue to transit in or out of the river. That number was larger than normal due to dense fog in the area for several days.

By Friday night, the Coast Guard said the ship had been moved out of the channel and no pollution was reported.

In the Marshall Islands, the Coast Guard said it had responded to the Wednesday grounding of a 308-foot commercial fish carrier, Ou Ya Leng No. 6, on Taka Atoll.

The Coast Guard said initial reports from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center China “stated the crew abandoned ship and were on the atoll.”

But the Coast Guard said a crew from an HC-130 Hercules aircraft found the crew was aboard the vessel and using emergency generator power. There are no reports of injuries or pollution.

The Hercules crew came from Wake Island, where they had been involved in the Sincerity Ace case since Dec. 31. Their home base is Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii.

Taka Atoll, also known as Toke Atoll, is a small, uninhabited coral atoll in the Ratak Chain of the Marshall Islands and is roughly triangular and made up of six small islands with an area of less than a square mile and lagoon in the center. Around 400 people inhabit nearby Utirik Atol.


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