The 59 meter long, 948 dwt tanker Hai Ha 18 suffered an explosion while berthed at Hai Phong, Vietnam. The Hai Ha 18 had been loaded with 900 tons of gasoline when a fuel pump transferring the fuel malfunctioned causing an explosion. A huge fireball erupted from the starboard tank and dense smoke filled the sky. Local authorities dispatched up to 400 firefighters and 15 fire trucks while two vessels attempted to douse the flames. Fearing the fire would get out of control authorities requested the Hai Ha 18 to be taken under tow away from nearby vessels and buildings. Nearby residents were told to be prepared to evacuate if the fire couldn’t be contained. After several hours, the fire was eventually brought under control.
Damage to the starboard hull was severe with part of the hull collapsed by the intense heat of the fire. Booms were placed around the vessel in case the hull ruptures. The Hai Ha 18 still had some gasoline in its cargo tanks after the fire which will be pumped out. No reports of any deaths from the explosion or fire.
On March 6, the 353 meter long, 162051 dwt container ship Maersk Honam caught fire in the Arabian Sea near the Agatti Islands. The Maersk Honam had departed from Singapore and was enroute to the Suez Canal when fire broke out in the one of the containers in the cargo hold. The 27 crew on board began fire fighting efforts to contain the blaze, but the fire quickly spread to other containers. Flames engulfed the main deck and the fire was out of control. The Maersk Honam sent out a distress call before the crew abandoned ship. Twenty-three crew members were later rescued by the cargo vessel ALS Cicero responding. Several crew members had sustained injuries and required medical attention. Four crew were reported as missing and presumed to be still on the Maersk Honam.
Vessels on scene with the Maersk Honam reported several explosions from the intense fire on the container ship. Flames from the main deck reached 25 meters high nearly reaching the Maersk Honam’s bridge.
Indian Coast Guard has launched search and rescue operations to find the missing crew. Specialized vessels have been dispatched to assist while authorities coordinate salvage efforts with the vessel’s owners.
On February 28, the 63 meter long, 1534 dwt cargo vessel Michael Putra caught fire in the Java Sea off Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia. The Michael Putra was headed for Bintan Island with general cargo along with 17 vehicles and 36 motorbikes when a fire started in the cargo hold. The crew attempted to extinguish the blaze, but as they fought the fire there was an explosion. The master ordered the crew to abandon ship into the vessel’s liferaft. The survivors were rescued 2 hours later by passing fishermen. The fishermen rescued all 16 crew and 2 passengers on board. No reports of injuries.
Crewmen reported hearing several explosions from the cargo deck of the Michael Putra while waiting to be rescued. Authorities state the Michael Putra was last reported as still burning and adrift. Salvage may be an option if the fire can be extinguished on the Michael Putra. The general cargo and vehicles on board are a total loss.