Image via Canadian Coast Guard

ZIM Kingston On Fire Off Victoria, BC After Losing Containers in Heavy Seas

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 22319
October 23, 2021

Update: 16 people have been evacuated from ZIM Kingston and the situation remains “dynamic,” the Canadian Coast Guard said in a late night update on Saturday.

ZIM Kingston Cargo Fire Stabilized, Canadian Coast Guard Says

The containership ZIM Kingston is currently battling a cargo fire after the ship lost 40 containers in heavy seas west of the United States-Canadian border. The ship is currently at anchor in the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported Friday that it was monitoring several adrift containers observed about 43 miles west of the Straits of Juan de Fuca entrance after they were lost from an inbound vessel when it listed in heavy seas. An update said as many as 35 containers had been observed floating and are being monitored as they drifted to the north.

The ship is the Maltese-flagged ZIM Kingston, is 4,253 TEU capacity containership built in 2008.

The ship is now anchored in Constance Bank off Victoria, B.C., and a fire has broke out in the cargo area. Photos posted online show smoke coming off the vessel:

ZIM Kingston experienced heavy seas from a strong low pressure system that impacted the region Thursday into Friday and at times was at hurricane force with seas up to 9 meters. The video below was from Thursday:

AIS shows the vessel was sailing from Busan, South Korea. Here’s some more imagery of ZIM Kingston off Victoria:

Reporting now indicates that the crew of the ZIM Kingston has been advised to abandon ship:

Current Location for ZIM Kingston:

Below is NOAA NWS Pacific Surface Analysis from Thursday showing a minimum low pressure of 952 mb:

A Coast Guard overflight on Friday located approximately 35 containers:

The low pressure system was one of the first major storms to hit the West Coast this season and is already spelling trouble for container shipping. A second, possibly likely more powerful storm is expected to impact the West Coast on Sunday into Monday:

NWS Weather Prediction Center has provided more details and context about this next storm, saying there’s the possibility of it “being the strongest known system for the area” with a forecasted minimum central pressure of 942 mb.

The next storm could be so powerful that the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which is monitoring the backlog of ships currently off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, is requesting the more than 100 ships at anchor and in holding areas (drift areas) voluntarily head to sea before the forecasted wind event expected Monday night.

“Working with the Coast Guard and other partners, we’re making plans for how to handle this backlog through the winter when we will get more wind, more often,” the Marine Exchange wrote in an update Friday.

“A wind event is scheduled for Monday night, and we’re asking ships at anchor and in holding areas to VOLUNTARILY go to sea before the wind event starts so they can space themselves out even more for safety of each vessel,” the update said.

Update (Sunday):

Image from Saturday courtesy Canadian Coast Guard

In a late night update on Saturday, the Canadian Coast Guard confirmed that 16 crew members have been evacuated from the ship and the situation remains “dynamic.” A 1 nautical mile safety zone has been established around the ship.

Transport Canada is also asking the public to not fly aircraft or drones around the scene:

Finally here’s a raw, unedited live deep-dive Twitter Q&A about the incident with Captain John Konrad. Tomorrow he will have a more focused and organized discussion of the incident on Dr. Sal Mercogliano’s YouTube channel What is Going on With Shipping?

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