On August 17, the passenger ferry Caribbean Fantasy caught fire near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Caribbean Fantasy was en route to San Juan from the Dominican Republic with 511 passengers and crew when a fire broke out in the vessel’s engine room and spread into other sections of the vessel. The passengers and crew evacuated the vessel using emergency slides and rescued by the Coast Guard, tugs and local authorities. Some 24 passengers suffered only minor injuries during the evacuation and were later taken to hospital. The disabled Caribbean Fantasy went adrift and eventually ran aground off Punta Salinas.
Firefighting and salvage teams boarded the vessel the following day while authorities placed booms around the hull to contain any pollution. Divers inspected the hull and found the grounding caused no damage to the hull. On August 20, tugs were able to reestablish towlines and refloated the Caribbean Fantasy and towed the ferry into San Juan. Fire fighters were able to enter the engine room and extinguish the remaining part of the fire.
Reports state the Caribbean Fantasy had been cited for 107 deficiencies by Coast Guard inspectors in recent years. One report from 2014, cited the vessel needed additional protection from fuel oil leaking onto hot surfaces.
The 42 foot long fishing vessel Sea Shepherd collided with the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo off Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Key Largo struck the fishing vessel during the early morning hours. The Sea Shepherd sank after the collision in 100 feet of water. The two crew on the Sea Shepherd were safely rescued. No reports of injuries or pollution released.
The 56 meter long freighter Jireh ran aground near Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The vessel loaded with 100 migrants passengers was en route to St. Martin when it struck a reef. Some 80 passengers swam ashore to the island with the remaining passengers staying on board.
Coast Guard Watchstanders immediately launched an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to the scene and notified federal and state agencies of the situation. The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is currently on scene assessing the situation, rendering assistance and accounting for all the people who remain on board the vessel.
At this time no signs of pollution have been detected in the water. Coast Guard pollution response personnel are responding as rapidly as possible and will be arriving on scene Thursday to conduct a more thorough assessment.
Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents, Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action and Puerto Rico Department of Natural & Environmental Resources marine units are coordinating to determine a plan of action to transfer the vessel passengers from Mona Island, while the Coast Guard is also coordinating with federal and local agencies to assess any environmental impact that may have been caused by the grounding of the vessel.