Second Maersk ship catches fire off Salalah, crew safe

Second Maersk ship catches fire off Salalah, crew safe

A container ship at sea.

A container ship at sea. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.


A second Maersk Line vessel has caught fire in the same area of the Arabian Sea south of Salalah where a fire crippled the Maersk Honam and killed five crew members  just two weeks ago.

Maersk Line said the Maersk Kensington, a vessel owned and operated by US subsidiary Maersk Line Ltd., reported a container on fire in a cargo hold while en route from Salalah, Oman, towards Suez. All 26 crew members are safe and accounted for and the fire is reported to be contained, the carrier said in a statement.

However, Maersk Line said there was no link between the cargo that caught fire in the hold of Maersk Kingston and the cargo that caught fire on Maersk Honam on March 6, despite both vessels being in the same area and both heading for the Suez Canal at the time. Still, the investigators into both fires are likely to have misdeclared, dangerous goods at the top of their priority list.

The 2007-built 6,188 TEU Maersk Kensington is currently at anchor outside the port of Salalah where it is receiving assistance from shore. The vessel is carrying 3,518 containers (or 5,616 TEU) and the carrier said all customers would be contacted if their cargo is delayed.

Maersk Honam was sailing from Singapore to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal when a fire in a cargo hold 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah quickly escalated, forcing the 27-man crew to put out a distress signal and abandon the ship. Only 23 crew were evacuated to the nearby ALS Ceres vessel with the remains of three crew later found and one missing, presumed dead. One of the evacuated crew died soon after being rescued.

Maersk Honam was part of the 2M Alliance’s AE11 Jade loop, with the port rotation of Qingdao, Busan, Ningbo, Xiamen, Nansha, Yantian, Singapore, Malta, Barcelona, Valencia, La Spezia, Gioia Tauro, Port Said, King Abdullah City, Dubai, Singapore, Shekou, Xiamen, and Qingdao. A total of 11 vessels of between 13,000 and 15,900 TEU were deployed on the string.

Several Maersk Line vessels assisted in the search and rescue for the missing crew members, but the carrier did not expect schedule disruption as a result. “To mitigate further impact to schedules of the vessels assisting with the search and rescue, Maersk Line vessels traversing the region are rotated periodically, so that one vessel is not excessively delayed,” the spokesperson said.

Contact Greg Knowler at greg.knowler@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.