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Cargo Ships Fire Sends Thousands Of Luxury Autos To The Sea Bottom (#GotBitcoin?)

Companies point to mislabeled, mishandled dangerous goods as likely source of unusual spate of fiery, costly incidents since last year. Cargo Ships Fire Sends 2k Luxury Autos To The Sea Bottom (#GotBitcoin?)

The international shipping industry is wrestling with a spate of fires aboard vessels at sea in recent months that have crippled several big cargo ships, killed a number of seafarers and cost companies and their customers hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

The latest blaze came on March 10, when a nearly 31,000-ton combined container and automobile carrier caught fire in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France, leading to the rescue of 27 crew members by a British Navy frigate. The Grimaldi Lines-operated Grande America sank two days later, taking more than 2,000 cars that included luxury Audi and Porsche models, to the seafloor.

The disaster was the fourth big ship fire in the past four months, and followed a handful of fires last year that included one that heavily damaged the megaship Maersk Honam, owned by Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container ship operator by capacity, and killed five crew members.

Maersk officials say the string of incidents is likely a coincidence, but it has raised alarms among operators, insurers and shipping customers, and focused more attention on the safe handling of the big quantities of goods that move on increasingly large and packed oceangoing vessels.

“It was a wake-up call,” Maersk’s head of fleet technology, Ole Graa Jakobsen, said of the fire that broke out March 6, 2018, on the Maersk Honam, a 353-meter (1,158 foot) ship with capacity for 15,000 containers, in the Arabian Sea.

Maersk has since barred the stowage below deck of dangerous goods and other shipments that may be resistant to fire fighting. The cause of the Honam fire, which took five weeks to bring under control, remains under investigation, but Maersk has said the ship carried shipments classified as dangerous goods.

Ship operators, insurers and regulators increasingly are focusing on the chemicals, batteries and other goods that can trigger or feed a fire.

Although the causes of ship fires are difficult to pinpoint, transport and logistics insurer TT Club estimates that around two-thirds of all incidents are the result of “poor practice in the overall packing process” of dangerous goods, which are often misidentified or undeclared.

The insurer said there is a fire at sea every 60 days on average, and overall insurance claims in excess of $500 million annually. The group estimates some six million containers, or 10% of the overall capacity moved across the oceans, contain dangerous goods, and nearly 1.3 million of those boxes aren’t properly packed or are incorrectly identified.

The potential damage from such incidents has grown as carriers have moved to ever-larger vessels, concentrating more containers on a smaller number of ships. That can raise the chances that dangerous goods are onboard and the rush to handle many thousands of boxes at port call may raise the chances that poorly packaged dangerous goods can slip through.

Mr. Jakobsen said that in some cases undeclared or misdeclared goods cause containers to go ablaze.

“It’s a root cause of some of the fires and we do what we can in terms of checks to make sure that what is declared, is actually what is in the box,” he said.

Products like barbecue charcoal can burst into flames when the temperature rises and others like fish food and pool-cleaning agents generate oxygen that can intensify the blaze.

The National Cargo Bureau, a surveying body that assists the U.S. Coast Guard to enforce safe navigation, said 4% of 31,000 boxes it checked in 2017 contained dangerous cargo that wasn’t properly secured.

Another survey of 1,700 vessel stowing plans said 20% of the plans weren’t in line with existing dangerous-goods rules.

“The numbers of containers and stow plans we check are very small. So if you extrapolate them for the whole industry, the problem is immense,” said NCB President Ian Lennard.

Some transport officials say shippers who circumvent dangerous-goods rules with false declarations should face criminal penalties. But German container line Hapag-Lloyd AG , which says it gets around 3,000 undeclared or misdeclared bookings a year, believes stricter rules won’t help.

“The shipper who deliberately doesn’t declare what is in a container won’t change because of more legal requirements,” said company spokesman Nils Haupt.

The fire on the Grimaldi Grande America started in a container on the vessel’s deck, according to the company, and spread quickly to vehicles on board, forcing the crew to flee in a single lifeboat.

It followed a string of fires that began on New Year’s Eve, when a blaze engulfed the Japan-registered car carrier Sincerity Ace as it hauled 3,500 vehicles from Yokohama to Hawaii. Five crew members died when a lifeboat launch went awry in heavy weather and they ended up in the water.

On Jan. 3, fire broke out on containers aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s Yantian Express off Canada’s eastern coast, forcing an evacuation of its 22-member crew.

Five days later, the Vietnamese tanker Aulac Fortune was rocked by three explosions off Hong Kong that left one sailor dead. On Jan. 31, a blaze hit the Singapore-registered APL Vancouver off Vietnam that took several days to bring under control before the ship was forced to limp back to Singapore for assessment.

Maersk, meantime, is still coping with the aftermath of the Honam fire a year after it happened.

Salvage crews sliced off the heavily damaged front portion of the ship and the rest of the vessel was loaded on a special extra-large transporter in Dubai last month and ferried to a shipyard in South Korea. Workers there will weld a new 228-meter steel section onto the remaining portion from midship to stern.

Updated: 9-9-2019

Coast Guard Finds Four Trapped Crew Members In Capsized Cargo Ship

The Golden Ray had some 4,200 cars on board.

Rescuers say the crew are alive in the vessel and that teams are determining the best way to extract them from the wrecked ship.

U.S. rescuers found four missing crew members alive in an overturned automobile-transport ship off the Georgia coast on Monday and were planning to try to pull them from the wrecked vessel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard said in Twitter post that the conditions of the crew members were not known but that salvage crews had made contact with them and were trying to determine how to extract them safely.

The 660-foot Golden Ray is operated by South Korea’s Hyundai Glovis , the car shipping arm of Hyundai Motors, which runs about 60 similar car carriers.

The ship capsized off St. Simons island shortly after it left the Port of Brunswick, Ga., on its way to Baltimore. The Coast Guard, which rescued 19 crew members and a ship pilot from Brunswick, said the cause of the accident was being investigated.

“The most common cause of a ship capsizing is cargo instability,” said Fotis Pagoulatos, an Athens-based naval architect. “If cargo is not properly secured it could move to one side, the vessel loses its balance and lies on its side.”

A Hyundai Glovis executive said, “There was some kind of an internal fire that could not be controlled and then it capsized.”

Traffic at the Port of Brunswick has been suspended to facilitate the rescue operations.

The crew were South Koreans and Filipinos.

Coast Guard Capt. John Reed told reporters late Sunday that it was too dangerous for rescue teams to go inside the vessel. “Once salvage professionals have determined the vessel to be stable, we will identify the best option to continue our rescue efforts for the four crew members who remain on board,” Capt. Reed said.

The Port of Brunswick is a main car terminal in the U.S. East Coast for importing and exporting vehicles, moving more than 600,000 cars and heavy machinery units in the 2019 fiscal year, ended in June.  It was set to sail to the Middle East after Baltimore.

Some of the rescued crew were hoisted into helicopters, while others climbed down on ropes and fire hoses into rescue boats.

The Coast Guard said there were no oil spills sighted in the sea area around the Golden Ray.

Updated: 1-22-2021

Maersk Ship Loses 750 Containers Overboard In Pacific Ocean

Rough seas during a trip from China to Los Angeles caused the loss, the latest in a series of weather-related accidents at sea affecting millions of dollars in cargo.

A cargo ship operated by A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S lost several hundred containers in the Pacific Ocean while sailing through heavy seas from China to Los Angeles, the latest in a spate of incidents in which boxes carrying millions of dollars’ worth of goods have gone overboard.

The company said the Maersk Essen, which has capacity for more than 13,000 containers, lost an estimated 750 of them on January 16 about halfway through its trans-Pacific sailing from China’s Port of Xiamen.

“All crew members are safe and a detailed cargo assessment is ongoing while the vessel continues on her journey,” Maersk said in a statement on Thursday. “The U.S. Coast Guard, flag state and relevant authorities have been notified. We view this as a very serious situation which will be investigated promptly and thoroughly.” A.P. Moller-Maersk is based in Copenhagen and the ship carries a Danish flag.

Several container ships have lost large numbers of boxes overboard in recent months in a spurt of accidents that maritime industry officials say had been declining.

The One Apus container vessel, operated by Singapore-based Ocean Network Express, lost around 2,000 boxes in November when it hit a storm off Hawaii on its way to Long Beach, Calif., from Yantian, China. The ship eventually sailed to Kobe, Japan, with hundreds of tipped-over containers sitting precariously onboard and remains there for repairs and an investigation into the cause of the incident.

People involved in the investigations said insurance claims from the One Apus could reach more than $220 million.

Losing boxes in harsh weather is relatively rare, but incidents this winter have been on the rise, especially in the Pacific.

Earlier this month, 76 containers fell off a vessel operated by Israel’s ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. en route from South Korea to North America. On Dec. 31, a boxship managed by Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp. Ltd. lost around 40 containers off the coast of Japan while heading across the Pacific.

Engineers involved in the probes say they are looking into typical causes like failures in lashing systems that hold containers together. But as ships become bigger and containers are stacked high as multistory buildings, a vessel’s stability may come under greater pressure from pitching and rolling.

“It’s called parametric rolling and can happen when waves don’t hit the bow head-on, but at an angle. The ship goes into a rolling motion in sync with the waves which, combined with the ship’s normal pitching as it steams ahead, can displace cargo,” said Fotis Pagoulatos, an Athens-based naval architect.

Maritime officials say ship operators are looking at installing sensors that could issue warnings on sea conditions to avoid parametric rolling.

“The higher you stack the boxes on deck, the larger the forces they are subjected to when the vessel moves in waves, and this could be a contributing factor, especially as the recent demand boom has meant filling all ships to the brim,” said Lars Jensen, chief executive of Denmark-based SeaIntelligence Consulting.

Yiannis Sgouras, a veteran Greek captain, said the threat can come without warning, even when waves aren’t very high. “If you don’t catch it early on and change course, the ship can roll from side to side as it steams forward and things fall over,” he said.

Maritime insurance executives said roughly 3,000 containers have been lost at sea over the past two months.

The World Shipping Council, a Washington-based trade body representing liner companies, said in a report last July that between 2008 and 2019 on average 1,382 containers were lost at sea each year.

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