Change of Maersk Ships After Fire

Maersk Brooklyn, the last of the laid up ships to leave Loch Striven and the last to leave the Clyde, reached Le Havre on schedule yesterday evening and set out again this morning bound for Malaga.

She is taking over duty from Charlotte Maersk, the 9,194 teu container ship which suffered a major fire aboard in the Malacca Strait, 60 miles off Port Klang on Wednesday 7th July.

Charlotte Maersk, under Captain Dick Danielsen, had left Port Klang for Oman when, at 21.30 local time, fire started on her foredeck, in a container carrying dangerous goods. She had a cargo of 1,000 containers, with a 21-man crew for the voyage – Danes, Indians, Filipinos and Ukranians, all of whom are safe and unhurt.

The ship began its own firefighting and the Malaysian authorities sent fire fighting ships  to help. An amphibious Bombardier aircraft was also involved in the firefighting. Over twenty four hours later, containers were still burning, resisting efforts to extinguish them. Photographs show fire burning steadily almost midships.

Maersk got a Svitzer salvage master on board by 8th July and sent a team of eight fire fighting experts and one marine chemist, who arrived that evening. One tug arrived that evening – assisting with firefighting – and three more the following day.

The procedure in fighting such fires is that for the first 4-6 hours containers in a specific place are cooled, after which a thermal camera establishes the temperature and, if this indicates that it is safe to enter the area, what is called ‘surgical container extinguishing’ is carried out, This means using container-cutting equipment to open and then to extinguish the burning containers, one at a time.

In the Charlotte Maersk fire, the temperature was very high in some areas – 1,000 Celsius – ruling out surgical extinguishing until more cooling took place.

Six days later, on 13th July, the fire could be said to be contained but had not been extinguished. 150 containers were involved and by 13h July 20 of these had been extinguished. By then Maersk had doubled the number of firefighting experts on the ship – to two firefighting team leaders and 13 firefighters, all very experienced.

Given the dates of the incident and that Brooklyn is now off to fill in for Charlotte Maersk, it may be that this is the reason why Brooklyn did not leave the Clyde as planned on 12th July but waited until 15th, after which she has wasted no time, making a quick exit from Le Havre on her way to Malaga.

This is not quite the voyage that Captain Fantastic, David Johnstone, had anticipated for his and Brooklyn’s return to service.

As we write, Brooklyn is rounding the northwest headland of Brittany on her way south, doing 19.2 knots on 242 WSW.


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