Fire on Yantian Express Under Control; Ship Now Under Tow to Halifax

Yantian express
MV Yantian Express. Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Liege

Hapag-Lloyd says the container fire on board the Yantian Express is now ‘largely’ under control and the ship is currently under tow back to Canada.

The fire on the 7,510 TEU-capacity Yantian Express started in a single container on 3 January before spreading to additional containers on deck which forced the evacuation of the ship over the weekend.

In an update Thursday, Hapag-Lloyd said efforts to extinguish the fire have been making continues progress under the direction of the salvage company Smit and in cooperation with the Hapag-Lloyd crew on the scene as well as Hapag-Lloyd’s emergency-response team in Hamburg.

“These combined efforts have allowed the fire to be largely contained and brought under control,” the company said in its update.

On Wednesday evening, five of the Yantian Express’s crew were transferred back to the ship from the ocean-going tug Smit Nicobar, which has been on scene fighting the fire.

All 24 crew members abandoned the ship to the Smit Nicobar last Saturday and Sunday after the fire ‘significantly increased’ in intensity, Hapag-Lloyd said previously.

The Yantian Express is now currently being towed at a slow speed by the Maersk Mobiliser, which was sent to retrieve the ship and tow her back to Halifax, according to Hapag-Lloyd.

The ship continues to be about 800 nautical miles off the coast of Canada, the company said.

A third ocean-going tug is also on its way to the Yantian Express and is expected to begin assisting the activities on 13 January.

“At this time, it is not possible to make a precise estimate of any damage to the “Yantian Express” or its cargo. Hapag-Lloyd is working in close cooperation with all relevant authorities,” Hapag-Lloyd’s update said.

The 320-meter, German-flagged Yantian Express was built in 2002 and operates on the East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service. The ship was sailing from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Halifax when the fire started.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has been monitoring the situation. Pretty soon, however, the ship will be entering the Canadian Coast Guard’s search and rescue region as it is towed closer to Halifax.

yantian express position
Yantian Express position according to AIS ship tracking data from VesselTracker.com. Credit: Genscape / VesselTracker