Update: The Canadian Coast Guard reports that the ZIM Kingston remained stable overnight as containers continue to smolder and cooling of the hull continues. A salvage crew from Resolve Marine are on scene but, due to the current weather, have been unable to board the ship.
“There are currently no impacts to human health for residents of Greater Victoria but Incident Command continues to monitor the situation,” the Coast Guard reported on Twitter.
The fire on board the containership ZIM Kingston is reported to be stabilized and the ship secured, the Canadian Coast Guard said Sunday afternoon. The ship remains at anchor at Constance Bank off of Victoria, British Columbia.
The anchor handling tugs Maersk Tender, Maersk Trader, and offshore tug Atlantic Raven, have remained on scene with the Canadian monitoring the ship overnight as gale force winds were forecasted for the area.
Five crew members remain on board the ship. Photos and video from Sunday show the fire has been mostly contained a single bay of containers in the forward part of the vessel.
The CCGS Cape Calvert and CCGS Cape Naden evacuated 16 crew members from the vessel on Saturday. No injuries to crew members have been reported.
The fire started Saturday morning as the ship was at anchor about 5 miles off of Victoria after earlier losing approximately 40 containers overboard in heavy seas west of the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait.
The U.S. Coast Guard said Sector Puget Sound alerted to the incident at 12:49 a.m. Friday from Prince Rupert Marine Communication and Traffic Services reporting that ZIM Kingston reported losing approximately 40 containers overboard when the vessel heeled 35 degrees in heavy swells 38 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The fire reportedly started in two containers of hazardous materials and spread to at least 10 containers on deck, although it appears more have been impacted. The Canadian Coast Guard reported Sunday that firefighting has consisted spraying water to cool the ship’s hull since the “nature of chemicals onboard” prevented dousing the fire directly. Reporting has indicated that two of the containers burning contained hazardous materials identified as potassium amylxanthate.
As of Sunday, smoke coming from the vessel was being tracked from air quality monitoring stations around the Greater Victoria
Depending on weather, hazardous materials firefighters are expected to board the ship on Monday. (An update Monday from the Canadian Coast Guard said the team, from Resolve Marine, has been unable to board the ship due to weather).
The USCG said the lost containers were initially reported to be general containers with no dangerous cargo. However, a preliminary report from the ZIM Kingston’s master indicated that two containers overboard contained hazardous material, the USCG said.
A USCG flyover crew from Air Station Port Angeles located 35 of the overboard containers offshore and deployed a self-locating datum marker buoy to monitor their movement. The USCG and Canadian agencies will continue to monitor movement of the containers and broadcast warnings as the containers pose a significant risk to mariners.
“The U.S. Coast Guard continues to monitor the situation, engaging with our Canadian and tribal partners to respond and support as requested while this incident continues to develop,” said Capt. Daniel Broadhurst, chief of incident management for the 13th Coast Guard District.
An incident command post led by the Canadian Coast Guard on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, and First Nations representatives continues to manage and coordinate the multi-agency response.
The incident comes as a major storm impacted the region Sunday into Monday. A wind warning is in effect for the greater Victoria area calling for southeasterly winds 70 km/h (43 mph) gusting to 90 km/h.
NOAA National Weather Service preliminarily reported that Sunday’s low pressure system reached a minimum central pressure of 942 mb, making it one of the strongest storms on record for the area – if not confirmed to be the strongest.
ZIM Kingston, registered in Malta, is 4,253 TEU capacity containership measuring 260 meters in length and beam of 32.25 meters. The ship is owned by Danaos Shipping (NYSE: DAC) and on charter to ZIM (NYSE: ZIM). She was underway from Busan, South Korea to Victoria, B.C.
The Canadian Coast Guard is enforcing a 2 nautical mile safety zone around the ship.
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