Maersk Fire Put Out, Foredeck Still Hot

A fir touched off by a container explosion on the containership Charlotte Maersk has been put out, the Malaysian government said, according to a report in London’s Safety at Sea International.

“The temperatures are very high, some places round 1,000 Celsius. In the latter case, it was impossible for fire fighters to approach before additional cooling had taken place. This was also one of the reasons why the fire extinguishing took time,” the company added.

Nothing has been revealed about the content of the containers. The ship was supposed to be “ferrying” containers, presumably empties, from Port Klang, Malaysia to Oman. There have been reports of “rogue containers” being aboard.

“Three tugs were standing by, doing surface cooling,” a source at the Malaysian Marine Department told London-based Fairplay. “There was only smoke, no more fire. “The situation is under control. No one has been hurt,” said the source.

Maersk Line said the fire on board the Maersk Charlotte, whose size has been alternately given as 7,226 TEU and 8,194-TEU and not at all in the latest reports, started after it left Port Klang.

“The initial assessment estimated that around 150 containers were opened and surgically [ie, one container at a time] extinguished,” said a Maersk spokesman in an American Shipper report.

Describing the procedures, the company said: “The extinguishing operation progressed so that first cooling of four to six hours of one or more containers in an specific area takes place. Then a thermal camera was used to assess the temperature, and if it were possible to enter the area surgical container extinguishing takes place.”

Last Friday, at 9pm local time in Malaysia, the captain on board Charlotte Maersk reported a fire on the foredeck of the vessel. The vessel immediately initiated firefighting procedures.

The company said the ship’s 21-member crew was assisted by a salvage master, a team of eight firefighting experts, four tugs with fire-fighting capabilities, two Malaysian coast guard vessels, a chemist and other experts with special tools and equipment.


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