Salvage Underway for Caribbean Fantasy Off Puerto Rico; All 511 Passengers and Crew Confirmed Safe

A local San Juan, Puerto Rico-based tug crew use a fire hose to cool the hull of the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel that caught fire earlier a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The Caribbean Fantasy's engine room caught fire, which began to spread to other compartments forcing passengers and crew to abandon the ferry vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A local San Juan, Puerto Rico-based tug crew use a fire hose to cool the hull of the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel that caught fire Wednesday a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A Unified Command is continuing to respond Thursday to a fire aboard the 561-foot passenger ferry vessel Caribbean Fantasy off Punta Salinas, Puerto Rico.

The fire broke out Wednesday morning in the engine room of the vessel and spread to other compartments on board, which led to the entire ship’s evacuation. The Caribbean Fantasy ran aground a few hours later about approximately half a mile off Punta Salinas. 

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The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Thursday that all 511 passengers including crew have been evacuated from the vessel.

Ardent Global has been hired for the salvage and is putting together a vessel salvage plan for review by the Coast Guard. Coast Guard marine inspectors along with salvage and fire fighting teams are scheduled to board the vessel Thursday to assess damage and determine the stability of the vessel.

The Coast Guard has established a 1,000-yard safety zone around the vessel.

There are no reports of sheening or pollution around the vessel at this time. The vessel is being closely monitored and booming has been deployed at the intakes for the Palo Seco Power Plant as a precautionary measure against potential discharge from the vessel. There has also been 14,000-feet of booming pre-staged near Punta Salinas.

The Caribbean Fantasy Response Unified Command consists of the US Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and Baja Ferries (owner of the Caribbean Fantasy).

Also assisting the response efforts are the American Cruise Ferries, Ardent Global, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the National Response Corporation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Witt O’Brien’s, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency and the Puerto Rico Fire Department.