Bulk Carrier Towed to Seattle After Main Engine Explosion

The Federal Iris is towed to Seattle, Washington, February 24, 2018. Photo credit: Skunkbayweather / Twitter

A 653-foot bulk carrier was towed to Seattle, Washington on Saturday after a minor main engine explosion left the ship adrift with 21 crew members onboard.

The vessel is the second commercial ship this month that has had to be towed to Seattle after becoming disabled due to an engine malfunction off the Pacific Northwest. 

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, personnel at its Marine Safety Unit Portland received a notification last Thursday afternoon that the Panamanian-flagged bulker Federal Iris with 21 crew members onboard had suffered a marine diesel engine casualty that knocked out vessel’s main propulsion approximately 120 miles west of the Columbia River entrance.

The Federal Iris was sailing from the Port of Changzhou, China to Longview, Washington to load cargo when the explosion occurred.

No crew members were injured in what the Coast Guard described as a “localized explosion” due to a malfunction of the main diesel engine components which left the main propulsion system inoperable. Prior to the notification, the vessel was limited in operations due to a reduction of propulsion issue and an inoperable ballast water treatment system, according to the Coast Guard.

The emergency towing vessel, Denise Foss, was contracted to tow the Federal Iris to Seattle. It reached the disabled Federal Iris on Friday and established a tow line. 

The Federal Iris is owned by Forward Gloria Navigation and chartered by Montreal-based Fednav.

MOL Prestige

The incident involving the Federal Iris is the second time this month where a ship had to be towed to Seattle, coincidentally by the Denise Foss, because of an emergency onboard.

Earlier this month, the 293-meter containership MOL Prestige was adrift for several days after it experienced an engine room fire on January 31, 2018 while a few hundred miles off the coast of British Columbia. Two crew members suffered critical injuries and had to be medevaced off the vessel.

The MOL Prestige arrived safely at the Port of Seattle about two weeks later under tow by the Denise Foss.