On January 8, the 144 meter long, 17542 dwt tanker Aulac Fortune exploded and caught fire off Lamma Island near Hong Kong, China. The Aulac Fortune had arrived from Guangdong where it had unloaded a cargo of petrol. The tanker was off the shore of Lamma Island being refueled by an oil barge when there was a series of explosions onboard. The explosions had blown off several cargo hatches and ripped open part of the main deck. Fires and dense black smoke spilled out of the holds. One crewman was instantly killed in the blast. Twenty-three crew abandoned ship and were later rescued from the water. Two crew were reported as missing. Four crew were injured in the explosion and were taken to hospital for treatment.
Authorities dispatched 3 fireboats, helicopters and patrol vessels to the scene. The fireboats were able to bring the blaze under control using foam, but it will take several days before the hull has cooled sufficiently.
The Aulac Fortune developed a significant 30 degree list, but remains afloat. Authorities have launched an investigation and a search and rescue operation for the missing crew.
Update January 15
Authorities dispatched divers and rescue crews to the Aulac Fortune. Divers inspected several tanks which were filled with a mixture of water and petroleum. Rescuers combed through the jagged wreckage. Reports state a body of one crew was found on board and the other missing crew was found near the shoreline of Lantau Island. The Aulac Fortune is to be towed away from the anchorage off Hong Kong. No details if the tanker is to be repaired or scrapped.
On January 3, the 321 meters long, 100003 dwt container ship Yantian Express caught fire in the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and Canada. The Yantian Express was en route to Halifax from Colombo, Sri Lanka when a fire started in one of the containers on the fore deck. Winds caused the fire to quickly spread to other containers on deck. The vessel changed course to reduce the winds as crew attempted to extinguish the blaze. The fire continued to spread as strong winds made it difficult to contain. The Yantian Express requested assistance with several salvage tugs responding.
On January 6, the salvage tug Smit Nicobar arrived on scene and began fire fighting efforts. The tug also evacuated 11 of the 23 crew off the Yantian Express. Reports state another tug had been dispatched from St. John’s to tow the Yantian Express to Halifax. No reports of injuries.
Update January 12
The owners of the Yantian Express provided an update stating the fire has spread from the deck to containers in Holds 1 and 2. Containers in Bay 1 to 24 have been damaged by fire, smoke, heat or by water in the fire fighting efforts. All reefer containers in the area impacted were turned off as a precaution.
Update January 19
Reports state there are three tugs assisting the Yantian Express. The container ship was taken under tow on January 16 to be towed to Halifax. Owners report that the fire was “widely” contained, but fire fighting efforts were still ongoing.
The 38 meter long former barge Tyee Princess caught fire while being scrapped at Surrey, British Columbia. Workers were cutting the walls with blow torches when some insulation caught fire. Dense black smoke was released into the air around the Tyee Princess. The local fire brigade was contacted and extinguished the blaze. No reports of injuries. The Tyee Princess was built in 1945 and converted into a coastal freighter after 1974. The vessel was later donated to the Maritime Heritage Society of Vancouver.