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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

MSC Flaminia still on fire

The fire, which started on 14th July 2012 in the cargo holds of MSC Flaminia is still not extinguished.

The container ship is drifting in the mid Atlantic and billowing thick smoke, which is seen from the passing cargo ships in the vicinity. All the crew members left the ship, after the explosion on board and the ship is not under control, such as the fire on board.

The Falmouth Coastguard sent two fire fighting tugs at the scene of the accident, but their ETA is the afternoon of 17th July 2012. The coastguard and the UK authorities have no other possible actions, as they reported that no investigation can be held before the fire is extinguished and the specialists inspect and check the place of the explosion.

The crew members of MSC Flaminia commented that the fire started in cargo hold number 4, where were loaded some containers with combustible bleaching agent calcium hypochlorite.

Meanwhile, one of the four injuread crew members died from heavy burns. The four injured people were boarded on the other ship of the MSC company – MSC Stella. Already the authorities reported about one missing crew members, who most probably died in

Of the 25 people who were onboard, there were – 23 crew members (3 Polish, 5 German and 15 Filipino) and 2 passengers. Still there is no information for water pollution in the area of the accident.

Reportedly Smit signed a salvage contract with German company NSB Niederelbe, which is operating boxship MSC Flaminia, and dispatched to drifting vessel salvage tugs Fairmount Expedition and Anglian Sovereign, ETA to the distressed vessel July 17 afternoon.

There is no recent information on the condition of the vessel, except vessel’s position and one photo published by Trade Winds, photo was taken by the crew of VLCC DS Crown. The version of  calcium hypochlorite being the cause of the fire looks to be dumped, as NSB Niederelbe checked all the cargo manifests and didn’t find calcium hypochlorite at all.

Trade Winds came up with calcium hypochlorite cargo as the main culprit judging obviously, from another accident with another boxship of the NSB Niederelbe company back in 1997: “NSB Niederelbe’s 1,600-teu Contship France (built 1993) – now the Marinos - sustained serious damage to both hull and cargo in 1997 in an explosion and fire attributed to calcium hypochlorite”.

All the musings about the cause of the fire and explosion at present stage are just that, musings, as long as there are hundreds combustible items around, and just one such an item, wrongly (most probably, intentionally in order to save the money) manifested and loaded, could trigger the disaster.

MSC Flaminia fire seems to be well to the fore, engine seems to be undamaged, so vessel may maintain some speed enough to keep smoke off the superstructure and the stacks aft from the burning ones, so crew could fight off fire going aft. It’s a preposition of course, but that’s what one may think looking at the only small-scale photo we have by now. There is a chance then, that things aren’t that bad and fire will damage the restricted number of containers and cargoes in them.

The crew abandoned MSC Flaminia in position 48-13N 027-59W, later vessel was reported to drift to position 48-13N 027-56W, in eastern direction.

Salvage tug Fairmount Expedition IMO 9358943, GRT 3239, built 2007, flag Netherlands. Salvage tug Anglian Sovereign IMO 9262742, GRT 2263, built 2003, flag UK.

Source [edited]

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