A week ago Cedar Posts gave guests aboard for a Charleston Habor tour a close up look at the arriving container ship MSC Flaminia.
On Saturday July 14, an explosion in hold #4 started a fire onboard the ship after it had left Charleston in route to Antwerpen Belgium. The crew fought the fire beforebeing forced to abandon the ship nearly a 1,000 nautical miles from land in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Several news sources are reporting the following:
DS Crown, a German-owned, Bahamas-flagged oil tanker, was the first to arrive at the scene and rescue 22 crew members and two passengers from a lifeboat and a liferaft. One member of the crew is missing and feared dead. Later MSC Stella changed her course to take onboard four injured crew members to the Azores, one of whom later died from the burns he had sustained while fighting the fire.
After the crew had abandoned the ship, MSC Flaminia was left drifting in mid-Atlantic. Dutch salvage company Smit International has signed a salvage contract for the stricken vessel, but the extent of the fire is not known as the first salvage tug, Fairmount Expedition, is not expected to arrive at the scene until late Tuesday, 17 July. Another salvage tug, Anglian Sovereign, is being equipped with Cobra cutting extinguisher capable of piercing the containers and extinguish the fire within, and will arrive in the last known position of MSC Flaminia by Friday, 20 July. Ships in the region have reported a large plume of smoke rising from the burning ship.
The fire onboard MSC Flaminia has again raised concerns about the dangers of incorrect or falsified cargo manifests when volatile materials are shipped in containers as they are not supposed to be stowed inside the cargo holds. A similar fire seriously damaged Hyundai Fortune, a 5,551 TEU container ship, in 2006. The shipping company has confirmed that according to the cargo manifest the ship was not carrying calcium hypochlorite, a chemical compound responsible for several container ship fires in the 1990s, but due to the possibility of misdeclared cargo in some of the 2,876 containers onboard the ship it can not be ruled out yet.