Hapag-Lloyd Containership On Fire Off the East Coast of Canada

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

A fire has broke out aboard a Hapag-Lloyd containership in the North Atlantic off the east coast of Canada.

In a statement posted to its website, Hapag-Lloyd said the fire started January 3 in one container on the deck of the Yantian Express and has spread to additional containers.

Efforts to extinguish the fire were launched immediately but were suspended due to a significant deterioration of weather conditions.

Full Coverage: Yantian Express Fire

At the time of the update, the ship was located approximately 650 nautical miles off the coast of Canada.

The crew of 8 officers and 15 seafarers are unharmed, Hapag-Lloyd said.

The ship was sailing from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Halifax, via the Suez Canal, where it was expected to arrive on January 4, according to AIS ship tracking data. 

The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday afternoon that it is coordinating the response efforts to ensure the safety of the crew.

Another commercial vessel, Happy Ranger, was just 20 miles from the position of the Yantian Express and has diverted to provide assistance. A commercial tugboat is also en route.

The Coast Guard said it is monitoring the situation. 

The 7,510 TEU vessel 320-meters-long and is flagged in German flag. The ship operates in the East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service. It was built in 2002.

β€œIt is still too early to make a precise estimate of any damage to the vessel or its cargo. Hapag-Lloyd is closely cooperating with all relevant authorities,” Hapag-Lloyd said.

Both the Yantian Express and Happy Ranger are participating in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) program. 

“Thanks to the participation of mariners in the AMVER system, we were able to coordinate a quick response,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Badal, operations unit watchstander at the Fifth District command center. “This system is crucial to coordinating nearby vessels to provide assistance when an emergency arises far from Coast Guard assets.”

No pollution or injuries have been reported. 

Yantian Express
Yantian Express photo provided by Hapag-Lloyd.

The incident adds to a busy start to the year in terms of maritime accidents.

On December 31, the car carrier Sincerity Ace suffered a fire with five fatalities in the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Hawaii. This ship is now abandoned, adrift and the fire continues on board.

On January 1, the mega containership MSC ZOE lost an estimated 270 containers overboard in heavy weather in the North Sea. No injuries were reported. 

On January 2, a 308-foot Chinese-flagged fish carrier, named Ou Ya Leng No. 6, ran aground on an uninhabited atoll in the Marshall Islands. Currently the crew of 24 remain on board the vessel.