Screen grab of President Eisenhower's position as of 11:42 a.m. PDT.

U.S.-Flag Containership Rescued After Fire in Santa Barbara Channel

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 20344
April 28, 2021

Update: It appears the President Eisenhower is now under tow away from the coast by the tug Teresa Brusco, so I guess this wraps it unless we hear anything more or receive any new reports from the Coast Guard. We’ll leave this post up (below) as is as we were tracking ship in real-time.

A U.S.-flagged containership, MV President Eisenhower, suffered a fire in California’s Santa Barbara Channel Wednesday morning and it appears to be drifting towards shore, but at this point there seems to be little concern over a risk of grounding.

AIS ship tracking showed the vessel as “Not Under Command” and traveling at a speed of about 1 knot towards the coast to the west of Santa Barbara.

The ship is nearly 300-meters-long and has a nominal TEU capacity of 7,831. AIS shows it is on a voyage from Los Angeles, California to San Francisco.

president eisenhower ship
MV President Eisenhower. File Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Bar Pilot

A Coast Guard spokesperson has confirmed to us that the President Eisenhower suffered a fire (presumably in the engine room) at around 3 a.m. that was extinguished by the crew and/or the ship’s own fire suppression system. No injuries or pollution were reported and a tug has been sent to assist the vessel.

It appears a nearby offshore supply vessel, Ryan T, has joined the ship, but it was not immediately clear if this is the towing vessel.

As of 11:30 a.m. PDT, President Eisenhower was still showing “Not Under Command” with speed was showing as 0.9 knots.

Screengrab showing AIS data from MarineTraffic.com as of approximately 11:30 a.m. PDT.

President Eisenhower was built in 2005 and is operated by CMA CGM Asia Shipping PTE LTD, according to CMA CGM’s website. The ship is one of nine American-flagged containerships in American President Lines’ (APL) fleet. APL is a Singapore-based subsidiary of French shipping group CMA CGM.

CMA CGM Group spokesperson has provided us with the following statement:

On April 28th, a fire occurred onboard the M/V President Eisenhower while she was transiting the Santa Barbara Channel. Thanks to the crew’s rapid response, the fire was extinguished. There are no reported injuries or pollution. We thank the U.S. Coast Guard for their prompt assistance. The incident is under investigation, and we are working closely with the appropriate authorities. 

For what it’s worth, neither the Coast Guard nor CMA CGM expressed any concern to us over a grounding incident, but AIS shows the vessel is still clearly “Not Under Command”.

You can follow the track of the vessel on MarineTraffic.com.

Update: It appears the tug Teresa Brusco is headed out for ship assist. The status of President Eisenhower is unchanged, still showing “Not Under Command” and a speed of 1.3 knots. The latest positions are below as of 1:45 p.m. PDT:

Courtesy MarineTraffic.com

Update: It appears that the tug Teresa Brusco has turned the President Eisenhower around and the pair are now moving away from the coast as of 2:25 p.m. PDT.

This is a breaking story… we’ll update as more information comes in.

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