Charred Charlotte Maersk Unloads Containers

Maersk Brooklyn, the last of the Danish shipping giant’s laid-up vessels, is leaving the west coast of Scotland for Malaysia to pick up surviving containers from a blaze aboard Charlotte Maersk where 150 boxes caught fire two weeks ago off Port Klang.

“Containers unaffected by the fire are proceeding to our customers as quickly as possible,” said a Maersk spokesman.

Maersk said the discharge of debris and damaged containers at the ship’s berth in Tanjung Palepas, Malaysia, has begun and will be completed by week’s end, reported London’s International Freighting Weekly.

An initial investigation indicated damage done to hatch covers, lashing bridges and cabling. Repairs would begin immediately with a view to having the ship in service next month.

At the height of the blaze, containers were burning at 1,000 degrees Celsius. But there were no reported injuries among the 21 crew. Other reports suggest fire started when a container exploded, said the IFW report.

The ship was assigned to Maersk’s AE11 service between Asia and Europe, and had left Port Klang and was heading to Salalah, Oman, when fire broke out on containers stored on the foredeck.

In the Malacca Straits, Maersk Line has confirmed that General Average (GA) has been declared on the ship. Maersk said that the “extraordinary expenditures” were incurred fighting the fire, along with costs still to come, led to the declaration of GA and the appointment of Hamburg-based General Average Adjuster, Stichling Hahn Hilbrich.

“The dramatic pictures of the fire-stricken Charlotte Maersk in the Malacca Straits are another reminder of the inherent flaw of containerisation; subjected as it is to the risk of mis-declared cargo,” said a commentary from London’s Containerisation International’s Mike Wackett.

“It is of course far too early to expect Maersk Line to be able to confirm the cause of the blaze – which has affected at least 150 boxes of the vessel’s deck cargo – but if previous incidents of this nature are anything to go by, any such report may not see the light of day once digested in the boardroom,” he said.

“But after the smoke has cleared, ocean carriers may still harbour the view that, like the mandatory weighing of containers, the cost and commercial negativity of a big stick clamping down on shippers far exceeds the potential risk of a rogue box among the millions transported daily without incident across global trade lanes,” he said.


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