TSS Pearl Red Sea Oct 2022 from Capt Singh Twitter

The TSS Pearl, a small containership that suffered a major cargo fire just forward of the crew accommodation, has sunk in the Red Sea, off Saudi Arabia.

Crew reported the fire on 5 October and abandoned the vessel, with the Jeddah Marine Rescue Coordination Centre picking up all 25 crew safely.

Last week, VesselsValue AIS data showed the vessel drifting north of the Farasan Islands, in what could be the deepest part of the Red Sea at more than 1,000 metres. The last transmission from the ship was received at 8.03pm last Wednesday.

An expert industry source told The Loadstar: “Voice data recording capsules contain an acoustic beacon [so that will still be transmitting a signal]. The question is whether anybody wants to recover it or not? I guess not, because we know the cause – cargo fire leading to sinking. There’s no safety-of-navigation investigation required.”

Other Loadstar sources suggested the ship may not have been inspected since 1 October 2019, three years ago. Normally port state control will inspect vessels every two years, said a source.

Claims consultancy WK Webster reported: “We received reports that containership TSS Pearl experienced a major fire on board while navigating the Red Sea, in a position north-west of the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia, on 5 October.

“Reports indicated that the fire was burning in container stacks at the stern of the vessel, immediately forward of the accommodation block.”

TSS Pearl was built in China and delivered in 2008 to Rafidain Shipping, registered in the Marshall Islands, and operated by UAE-registered Tehama Shipping,  primarily between Jeddah and Aden in the Yemen.

Cargo fires have been a persistent menace to containerships, with a number of very high-profile incidents, including the Maersk Honam, in which five crew died.