Shippers with damaged cargo on board the fire-stricken Yantian Express may have to wait up to two months before they receive their goods.

Owner Hapag-Lloyd said the vessel remained at a berth in Bahamas’ Freeport, which has been “designated exclusively to receive the distressed containers/cargo” due to “security, health, safety and environmental considerations”.

“The port authority is monitoring the preparation of the site and is yet to give its final approval to start discharge operations, which is expected to be received in the next few days.

“We hope to receive permission to commence this operation shortly and, based on the information currently available, we expect the discharge to take approximately two months,” it said in a customer advisory.

General average was declared on the 7,500 teu vessel on 28 January and salvor SMIT Salvage Americas was engaged under a Lloyds open form contract, which effectively means SMIT is entitled to retain the cargo until salvage security is provided.

However, Hapag-Lloyd added that SMIT had issued an early security demand to help shippers move their cargo quicker.

According to documents from Richards Hogg Lindley, appointed as the adjustor, cargo owners will need to deposit a salvage security and a general average security. Shippers whose cargo is insured can lodge guarantees provided by their insurers.

However, Richards Hogg Lindley documents explain: “For uninsured cargo, a cash deposit of 32.5% is required as salvage security. An additional 28% is also required as general average security. The total deposit required is therefore 60.5%. The deposit is to be calculated based on the cargo CFR value [cost of the cargo including the cost of sea freight].”

The fire broke out last month in a container stowed on the vessel while it was en route to the Canadian port of Halifax. The blaze then spread to other boxes. Heavy weather rendered the crew’s fire-fighting efforts fruitless, forcing them to temporarily abandon ship.

The 2002-built, 320-metre vessel sails under a German flag in THE Alliance’s East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service, which connects South-east Asia with the east coast of North America via the Suez Canal.


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  • Jcobb

    February 22, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    How many containers were damaged by the fire? How many were reefer containers?