In an emailed statement this morning, Maersk Line confirms that one of their largest containerships, the 397 meter, 11,000 TEU Eugen Maersk caught fire on 18 June while transiting through the Gulf of Aden on its way to Port Said, Egypt.
“The fire appears to have started in a single container,” notes Maersk, and the ship’s crew was able to contain the fire without injuries to the crew. “The Eugen Maersk is now safely alongside in Djibouti. A Svitzer firefighting team is onboard, and they have confirmed that in total five containers were affected by the fire.”
The affected containers will be unloaded in Djibouti, before the vessel (with the remainder of its cargo intact) continues to Port Said and onwards. Maersk notes that port calls may be slightly delayed by this incident.
This incident highlights a unique danger on board container vessels. Although the container manifest showed that only household goods were stored inside, a fire broke out nonetheless. The crew was fortunate that they were able to contain the fire quickly.
“A surveyor has been on the scene, and we are still ascertaining the exact cause of the fire, including whether the contents of the container were as stated,” added Maersk.
Last summer, the crew of the MSC Flaminia in the northern Atlantic was not so fortunate as a fire within a container quickly spread to become a raging, and explosive inferno, killing three crew and badly damaging the ship and cargo.