Cargo Fire Peters Out on British Bulk Carrier MV Cheshire Off Canary Islands

Cheshire cargo ship fire
MV Cheshire pictured August 27, 2017. Photo: Bibby Line Limited

The fertilizer cargo on board a UK-flagged cargo ship has finally stopped smoldering more than two weeks after its crew was forced to abandon ship due to toxic smoke, the owner of the vessel said Sunday. 

In an update on the incident, Bibby Line Limited reported that Spanish authorities have permitted salvors to take the 56,597 dwt MV Cheshire closer to shore in Gran Canaria as salvage operations continue for the stricken ship.

The MV Cheshire was underway off the Canary Islands on a passage from Norway to Thailand with a cargo of ammonium nitrate fertilizer when part of cargo began to overheat on August 12. The Cheshire arrived off Las Palmas on August 13, where it was scheduled to take on bunker fuel, but the vessel was denied entry to port because of the smoldering cargo.

A day later two SAR helicopters evacuated all 24 crew members from the vessel with no reported injuries.

Salvors from Resolve Marine arrived on scene on August 15 but were unable to board the vessel due to weather and hazardous conditions on board. On August 21, Resolve was finally able to get a tow line attached and towed the Cheshire back towards Gran Canaria.

Bibby Line said as of Sunday the Cheshire was located about 50 nautical miles southeast of Gran Canaria and was under tow by the Red Sea Fos. A plan to board the vessel on Sunday was called off again because of inclement weather.

At the time of update, Bibby Line said it had received permission to bring the vessel closer to shore but no closer than 12 nautical miles.

It is now being reported that all 5 cargo Holds have cooled down and at present, there are no fumes emanating from the vessel.

The fire is believed to have started due to a chemical reaction in the fertilizer that caused it to overheat.