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.
The 33 meter long passenger ferry Northern Star allided with a pier just outside the terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. The Northern Star with 136 passengers was on its way to the ferry terminal Sha Tsui ferry terminal when it suffered some mechanical failure. The failure caused the ferry to veer off course and hit a the pier before crashing onto the shoreline. The impact caused many of the passengers and crew to be knocked off their feet. Seven crew suffered injuries, but all passengers were unharmed. The Northern Star had to be towed from the scene to the ferry terminal. The pier sustained damage to several pillars.
On August 23, Typhoon Hato landed near Hong Kong, China. Authorities issued a typhoon 10 warning due to the storm’s sustained winds of 78 miles per hour and gusts reaching over 129 miles per hour. Reports state that four vessels requested assistance that were in Hong Kong or the Pearl River estuary. Reports state three vessels had run ashore, one had capsized and another broke-in-two releasing pollution into the water.
From Hong Kong news reports:
During the typhoon Typhoon several cargo ships were stranded, 39 crew members were trapped on board or falling into the sea, and more than 10 were injured. Authorities received a report at about 1 pm, from a cargo vessel stranded in the southwest of Hong Kong with 14 crew on board. The crew requested assistance with three helicopters dispatched to the scene. Rescuers had a difficult time with the waves between ten to fourteen meters. Despite the bad conditions, rescue helicopters found the cargo vessel and rescued twelve crew off the vessel and two crew from the water who had fallen overboard. Several crew had sustained injuries.
Helicopter search during the scene found other vessels stranded. Rescue operations were able to rescue over 25 crew. One crewman was found unconscious and another who was suffering from hypothermia. Both were taken to hospital for treatment. The search and rescue operation was suspended at night after eight sorties had rescued a total of 28 crew members.
Vessels reported that requested assistance:
The 88 meter long, 3382 dwt tanker Gem No. 8 (IMO: 9332482)
The 144 meter long, 19822 dwt tanker Rainbow Island 88 (IMO: 9286542)
The 97 meter long tanker Kai Shun You 7 (MMSI: 413444170)
The 141 meter long cargo vessel Xin Hau Tai (MMSI: 413701730)
The 63 meter long cargo vessel Yuhai1 (MMSI: 413831041) abandoned and crew abandoned ship into the water near the shore in Discovery Bay.