Hapag-Lloyd has announced that the fire that broke out on its 7,500 teu Yantian Express was last night “brought under control”.

The fire started in a container on 3 January, and the crew’s initial efforts to put it out were hampered by heavy weather conditions.

The crew of eight officers and 15 seafarers on Hapag-Lloyd’s fire-stricken ship were subsequently removed from the vessel after efforts to bring the fire under control proved fruitless, but last night five of them were returned.

“Efforts to extinguish the fire have made continuous progress under the direction of the salvage company Smit and in cooperation with the Hapag-Lloyd crew on the scene, as well as Hapag-Lloyd’s emergency-response team in Hamburg.

“These combined efforts have allowed the fire to be largely contained and brought under control,” the company said in a statement this afternoon, adding that five crew members were transferred from the ocean-going tug Smit Nicobar to the box ship.

The Yantian Express is currently being towed at a slow speed by the Maersk Mobiliser tug and continues to be about 800 nautical miles off the coast of Canada.

According to AIS data from vesselsvalue.com, the vessel is proceeding to Halifax at a speed of 2.1 knots.

Hapag-Lloyd said a third ocean-going tug is on its way to the Yantian Express and is expected to begin assisting activities on 13 January.

“At this time, it is not possible to make a precise estimate of any damage to the Yantian Express or its cargo. Hapag-Lloyd is working in close cooperation with all relevant authorities,” it added.

However, a statement from Hapag-Lloyd alliance partner ONE suggested the damage to cargo is likely to be extensive.

“Based on current available information, we have to assume that all cargo in bay 12 on deck and forward is directly affected by the fire, as well as all cargo in Hold 1 (Bay 1 to 9).

“Furthermore, we have to expect that all cargo in Hold 2 (Bay 11 to 17) is affected by fire, smoke and/or damage caused by firefighting water. Damage caused by smoke, heat and/or firefighting water in adjacent areas is also possible.

“All Reefers on Bay 1 to Bay 24 are without power and switched off. All other Bays with reefers are continuously supplied with power and in operation,” it said.

The 2002-built vessel is 320 meters long and sails under German flag in THE Alliance’s East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service, which connects south-east Asia with the east coast of North America, and was underway from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal.


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