Photo: Havariekommando

Maersk Megaship Refloated in Germany -Update

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 31151
February 3, 2022

Update: An army of tugs led by the Sovereign and Neuwark towed the Mumbai Maersk free at high tide early Friday morning. Six additional tugs were involved in the refloating effort and Mumbai Maersk is en route to Bremerhaven.

Mumbai Maersk during the refloating operation. Credit: Havariekommandos

February 3 (gCaptain) – A Maersk megaship has run aground in the North Sea just off Germany, not far from a popular tourism island.

The Danish shipping giant has confirmed that its M/V Mumbai Maersk grounded outside Bremerhaven and efforts are underway to refloat the vessel.

All crew are reported safe, there is no pollution, and no sign of hull breach.

The entrance to the Port of Bremerhaven, one of the largest ports in Europe, is not impacted.

A flotilla of tugs will try to refloat the vessel at the next high tide around midnight, which is expected to be about a half meter above normal. A first attempt to refloat the ship was aborted.

Mumbai Maersk was on its way from Rotterdam to Bremerhaven when it grounded during its approach to Germany’s Weser River at around 23:05 LT Wednesday night, according to Germany’s maritime emergency agency Havariekommando.

Built in 2018, MV Mumbai Maersk is one of the largest ships in the world, coming in at 399 meters long and 19,630 TEU capacity. The ship is registered in Denmark.

Maersk’s statement on the incident is below:

We can confirm that on 2 February at around 23:00 CET, Mumbai Maersk was grounded outside Bremerhaven, Germany. All crew are safe, there is no pollution and no sign of hull breach. The vessel is on ground on a shallow patch and as such the entrance to the port is not obstructed and port operations is running as normal. Sailing from Asia, the vessel had its last stop in the port of Rotterdam before grounding outside of Bremerhaven. The vessel was on its way to discharge and consequently the cargo meant for Bremerhaven is still onboard, along with cargo destined for the Scandinavian countries.

A first attempt to free the vessel has been performed unsuccessfully. Extra tugs are being deployed and a new attempt is expected at the coming high tide around midnight on 3 February.

Mumbai Maersk is reportedly carrying 7,380 containers, according to source familiar with the situation.

An update from Havariekommando said two specialized salvage tugs, Union Sovereign and Union Manta, are en route the scene. You may recall, earlier this week the Sovereign was the primary tug involved in the rescue of the Juliette D bulk carrier which broke free from its anchor off IJmuiden, Netherlands and came within only a few miles of grounding.

Credit: Havariekommando

You can see the track of the Maersk Mumbai and its current location below. AIS shows the ship was going about 10 knots before the grounding:

AIS track courtesy MarineTraffic.com

The incident with the Mumbai Maersk is taking place near the German island of Wangerooge, part of the Frisian Islands archipelago (aka Wadden Islands), worrying residents there and rekindling memories of the MSC Zoe, which lost some 342 containers overboard in heavy weather off the Netherlands, not far from the location in January 2019. That incident created an environmental disaster for the tourism-reliant island chain as containers and debris washed ashore. An investigation into the incident also prompted Dutch authorities to warn of the risks to large, wide-beam containerships taking shallow southern shipping routes near the islands especially during periods of heavy weather.

You can see the full track of the Mumbai Maersk’s voyage below. As you can see the ship stayed a far distance from the island chain:

The position of Denmark-flagged 400-meter container ship Mumbai Maersk en route from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to the north-western German port city of Bremerhaven is seen near Wangerooge, Germany in this handout provided to Reuters on February 3, 2022. MarineTraffic/Handout via REUTERS

The photo below was taken from the shore of Wangerooge island, giving some indication of its close distance to shore:

Photo courtesy https://blog.ankerherz.de

We don’t want to speculate on the cause of the grounding, but at first glance it doesn’t appear that the ship’s route was the issue. A closer inspection of Mumbai Maersk’s track, which has been circulating on social media shows, an interesting maneuver right as it was entering the shipping channel leading to the port (we should note that we haven’t been able to independently verify the chart below).

You can also see the track on MarineTraffic.com:

Courtesy MarineTraffic.com

Below you can see several tugs surrounding the Mumbai Maersk.

Photo: Havariekommando
Courtesy MarineTraffic.com

The tug configuration during the refloating operation is below:

Courtesy Havariekommando

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