Inside Logistics

Cargo ship fire blazes for a week [Updated]

Firefighters finally on board the Maersk Kampala


September 3, 2013
by MM&D staff

SUEZ CANAL—Bad weather has hampered efforts to contain a fire on the Maersk cargo ship, the Maersk Kampala, that has been burning for seven days.

According to the company, on Wednesday, August 28, a fire started in one container at the bottom of a stack in the foremast bays on the deck and quickly spread to a second container. When the fire started, the ship was heading north the to Suez Canal.

Tugboats with fire fighting capabilities were dispatched to the ship, but weather conditions prevented the tugs from getting close enough to the Maersk Kampala to be able to effectively fight the fire. A team of fire fighters originally assigned to tackle the fire, had their arrival delayed as the tugboat carrying them broke down.

While the flames engulfed additional containers, the fire was contained in the original bays.

Over the course of the weekend, the tugs continued to soak the ship, and were able to reduce the number of burning containers to six. And the fire fighting team was finally able to make it to the vessel. That first team was expected to be joined by a second team that was scheduled to arrive late yesterday evening.

The firefighters are attempting to extinguish the fire inside the containers by cutting them open and flooding them with water.

All crew members are accounted for and there were no injuries reported as a result of the fire.

Update

In a statement issued today (September 4, 2013), Maersk has said the fire is out.

“The fire-fighting teams aboard the Maersk Kampala have succeeded in putting out the fire aboard the Maersk Kampala. Some smoke continues to come from some of the containers that had fire but will stop eventually with continued spraying by the tugs and flooding by the fire-fighting teams. Operational planning is now the priority, including port selection, contingency planning for cargo as well as the vessel’s eventual return to service.”